Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones have been engaging in a public war of words for the last year and half, since Adesanya won the middleweight title. What started as mutual respect for each other quickly devolved into a bitter feud, with Jones calling for Adesanya to move up and fight him and “The Last Stylebender” saying first he needed to defend his newly won title. Adesanya even suggested 2021 as the time at which he will have cleaned his division out and could then move up. But those best laid plans have seemingly gone awry.
Earlier this week, Jon Jones declared his intent to vacate the 205 pound title and move up to the heavyweight division. It was simultaneously a shocking turn of events and a long time coming in the eyes of fans who have been calling for Jones to move up for years. It also would seem to end the possibility of a Jones-Adesanya fight happening next year. But don’t be so sure of that, because even though there are now two weight classes between them, Jones is not out of the crosshairs of Adesanya.
“One hundred percent. It doesn’t change my plans,” Adesanya said at the recent virtual media day. “My plan is still going forward as planned. So, yeah, same thing.
“Look how long it took him to move up to heavyweight, finally. Like I said, he was expecting me to do it straight away, when I hadn’t even defended my belt yet. I’ve defended my belt twice now, I want to defend it a few more times and then do what I set out to do. But, yeah, the pot calling the kettle black on his part. (Tsk tsk). Go put some f*cking muscle on your chopstick legs and go fight Francis Ngannou and watch him break you. I hope he doesn’t, though. Maybe he does. Who knows?”
Jones likely won’t be facing Ngannou in the near future as UFC President Dana White has made it clear that Ngannou is the next challenger for Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight title. Depending on the outcome of that fight, Jones could face the winner but that would be a fair way off in the future. Which actually works for Adesanya as he still has some business to attend to in the middleweight division, including his upcoming title fight with Paulo Costa at UFC 253.
Adesanya’s fight with Costa is an important one in part because it is only the second time in UFC history that two undefeated male fighters will be competing for a belt. Perhaps even more importantly though, it gives Adesanya a chance to wash the bad taste out of the mouths of fans who were disappointed by his most recent title defense, a lackluster unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 248.
“This is perfect,” Adesanya said. “What I was expecting from my last fight is going to happen this fight. Bro, you can’t understand. In my story, you just can’t just have it going good and going great in the story. You need a dip, you need a valley when things go to sh*t, and that was me after the last fight, the performance that Yoel Romero brought. He was lackluster. I’ve never been in a boring fight in my life. I had all this criticism, justly or unjustly. That was a dip, and now this is the rise back.
“What better antagonist than this guy, who was undefeated, a KO artist, he looks the way he does, ballooned up? It’s like David and Goliath. I f*ck this guy up, and it’s spectacular. As they say: Someone’s 0 has got to go. It’s a beautifully set up story. You couldn’t write this sh*t. You could, but it’s real.”
Like with Jones, Adesanya has been engaged in a heated war of words with Costa. The hope for fans is that their animosity will lead to a more exciting fight than the previous time out for “The Last Stylebender” and while Adesanya does for see a much more exciting fight, that doesn’t mean he thinks it will be particularly close.
“I think a performance of the year, shutout of the year, shutdown of the year maybe,” Adesanya said. “‘Fight of the Year?’ I’ve already had that in my back pocket, but if it happens again – I just don’t think it’s going to happen just because of the situation. You have to be smart enough to put it together. This guy gasses after the first round. We’ve got five rounds. Look at me in all my fights in the fifth round, in the fourth round, the third round, the later rounds – I’m always fresh. So, yeah, precision is going to be the key in this fight. Precision, skill and just taking him out one by one.”
UFC 253 takes place on Sept. 26 at a yet to be determined location.
Return. Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson explains coming back to UFC after being against fighters returning from retirement.
Robbery of the Year.
UFC 252 Fight Motion.
Road to Bellator 244.
Daniel Cormier’s Last Dance.
Fights Gone By. Discussing the end of Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones at heavyweight.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) August 19, 2020
— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) August 18, 2020
They’re gonna fight.
Looking forward to it
— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) August 18, 2020
Had USADA stop by already this morning
— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 18, 2020
Plus, Jon on why he’s vacating the title.
Bro there’s always going to be another guy waiting for his turn. I’ve been doing this shit for too long. I’ve been giving people a chance for over a decade, very few have come close, all has failed https://t.co/noxR9Glk57
— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 18, 2020
— Nasrat Haqparast (@Nasrat_mma) August 19, 2020
Khabib admonishing DC for telling secrets.
Brad Riddell (8-1) vs. Alex da Silva (21-2); UFC 253, Sep. 26.
Brian Ortega (14-1) vs. Chan Sung Jung (16-5); UFC Fight Night, Oct. 17.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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