Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Israel Adesanya wants to make one thing perfectly clear when it comes to his trash talk in interviews or over social media — he’s not looking to start a war but he’ll definitely finish it.
Just recently the UFC middleweight champion engaged in a back-and-forth exchange with Jon Jones following his second-round TKO against Paulo Costa. Adesanya and Jones have been at odds for quite some time but the intensity always seems to ratchet up whenever one of them is performing.
While trash talk is almost expected in combat sports, Adesanya knows there are some subjects that should be off limits. The topic perhaps at the top of that list is family, which is a code Jones broke when he brought up Adesanya’s father during a recent tirade on social media.
“I’m curious to hear what his father tells him when he asks about fighting me,” Jones said in reference to Adesanya crediting his father with some pre-fight advice prior to UFC 253. “I wonder if his father believes he’s ready.”
In response, Adesanya told Jones that his mother, who passed away in 2017, “would be disappointed in who you’ve become.”
Adesanya agrees that was an ugly exchange but if not for Jones bringing up his father in the first place, he never would have done the same.
“I like to respond rather than react and yet he talked about my father and then I brought up his mother, who rest in peace has passed away,” Adesanya explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “People are faulting me like ‘you don’t talk about a man’s dead mother.’ I’m like you don’t talk about a man’s father. I don’t give a f**k if your mom is dead or alive. Don’t bring my father or my family into this. Cause this is work. If you bring up anything about my family that’s open season. I’m coming for your whole f**king family. Your whole clan.
“He brought up my father. I didn’t say anything bad about his mother. I’m sure she was a lovely lady. He actually looks like he has a good family outside of the cage. I would never say anything disrespectful about his mother. All I said is your mom would be disappointed at who you’ve become because he brought up my father. F**k if your mom is dead. Don’t talk about my dad even though he’s alive. Don’t talk about my family. It’s fair game. I won’t talk about your mom, if you don’t talk about my dad.”
Because Adesanya has built such a massive profile thanks to his undefeated run through the UFC middleweight division, which includes four straight victories in title fights, it seems almost everything he says gets scrutinized.
He understands that’s part of the business that comes along with living under such a bright public spotlight but Adesanya knows Jones crossed the line when mentioning his father and that’s why he felt compelled to respond.
“People’s like ‘oh why don’t you talk about his dad instead, he’s alive.’ I don’t give a f**k. That’s not up to you to decide,” Adesanya said. “That’s not for you to decide when you come at me with something that wasn’t even on the table.
“Next time, you talk about my family and nothing is off limits. You want to get dirty? Trust me, I’m from the f**king gutter. I can get dirty and grimy.”
If there’s an unwritten rule book regarding trash talk, Adesanya understands not much is out of bounds.
Adesanya has no problem referencing Jones’ frequent issues outside the cage including past arrests or incidents involving drug testing complications with the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Even then, Adesanya says he’s not casting judgment as much as he’s stating facts about the issues that have continuously plagued Jones throughout his career.
“The guy’s a piece of sh*t and he knows it,” Adesanya said. “That’s the thing, I’m not perfect. I’m a piece of sh*t in my own right but the difference between me and him is I learn from my mistakes and I make sure that they never happen again. That’s the big difference between me and him.
“But he’s a piece of sh*t through and through. He never learns from his mistakes and he repeats them over and over again. That says a lot about him as a person.”
Adesanya invites Jones to attack him on that level but family is sacred and the 31-year-old Nigerian-born champion knows as much as they despise each other, some subjects should just be avoided.
“Even my coach, you can bring in my coach, I don’t mind because we’re in this business,” Adesanya said. “Just because you see my family in the cage celebrating with me or you see me bring up my dad and hail him, that doesn’t mean he’s on the table. That’s family.
“If you really want to get dirty, trust me, I’ve got receipts. I can get down and dirty. I’ve got f**king foot soldiers in New Mexico. They tell me what’s really happening. You’ve got no f**king idea. This is war. I’m a general in this b*tch.”