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Israel Adesanya: Winning second UFC title from Jan Blachowicz ‘will add to my legacy’

Israel Adesanya will look to join a special class of fighters when he challenges Jan Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title next year.

Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC), the reigning middleweight king, will attempt to became the fifth simultaneous two-division champion in company history, and eighth overall to win belt in multiple weight classes, when he goes up in weight to fight Blachowicz (27-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC).

Of all the names to rule in two divisions, no one has ever held the 185-pound and 205-pound strap. The 20-pound gap is the largest leap between UFC division’s (although heavyweight fights can have bigger weight discrepancies), so it would be something special for Adesanya to get it done. He said he’s well aware of that fact.

“Definitely catching that belt will add to my legacy,” Adesanya told MMA Junkie Radio on Thursday. “Jumping up in weight, that will add to my legacy. I could just stay at middleweight and clean everyone up. But I’ve done it in boxing, I’ve done it in kickboxing, so I’m going to do it in MMA. That’s my next fight. It’s almost three years in the company and look what I’ve done. Now I’m about to move up in weight and grab another one.”

Amanda Nunes, Henry Cejudo, Daniel Cormier and Conor McGregor are the four other names in UFC history to hold simultaneous titles. Of that group, however, only Nunes has moved back down after claiming a strap in a higher weight class.

According to Adesanya, he’s going to buck that trend. “The Last Stylebender” said that middleweight remains very much a priority.

“I’m going to come back down,” Adesanya said. “185 is easy for me to make. I make 185 like it’s nothing. I’m even under weight at most of my weigh-ins, so it’s not like it’s a struggle for me to make 185. That’s my fighting weight. 205 is just fun and games. It’s work. It’s a challenge. It’s what livens me. I like doing things that many people would run away from.”

Adesanya’s jump up to light heavyweight was largely prompted by a lack of desirable options at middleweight. UFC president Dana White said after UFC 254 this past month that a rematch with Robert Whittaker was “very appealing,” but apparently Whittaker wasn’t vocal enough, despite insisting he wanted the fight.

Running it back with Whittaker, who Adesanya beat by second-round TKO to claim his title at UFC 243 in October, wasn’t particularly intriguing, though. Adesanya said Whittaker’s wins over Jared Cannonier and Darren Till didn’t do much for him, and that’s why he looked to Blachowicz.

“I can be honest and say in the fact that I wasn’t too impressed with the performance (against Cannonier),” Adesanya said. “He did well, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t too impressed to be like, ‘OK, let me get this guy again.’ If he went in there and (expletive) up Cannonier in a way that was mind-blowing and finished him, it might’ve got me looking at him different, like, ‘OK, you’ve changed.’ It didn’t really light that spark. I feel like I would do the same thing again.”

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