Celebrity profile: Who is Israel Adesanya?

With his next fight in early November, fans of Israel Adesanya are beginning to feel the buzz of excitement. The Middleweight fighter will be taking on Alex Pereira on November 12 2022 in New York City.

The fight between Adesanya, the Nigerian-New Zealander, and Pereira of Brazil is set to be one to remember. Fans will remember that two time rival Pereira is the only man to knock out Adesanya, who has a significant size advantage over him too.

Many betting sites are putting the odds in Pereira’s favour as part of the live match at the legendary Madison Square Gardens. Pereira has had an incredibly fast rise. Still, this is Adesanya’s chance to fight back and prove any doubts that he can defeat the Brazilian Middleweight as champion.

In either case, it’s destined to be a fantastic live watch in this iconic venue.

Who is Israel Adesanya

Born on 22 July 1989 in Lagos, Nigeria Israel Adesanya is a kickboxer, professional mixed-martial artist and former boxer. With the nickname “The Last Stylebender”, Adesanya is the current UFC Middleweight Champion and has a record of 23 wins professionally and one loss.

Adesanya is the oldest of five children and was described by his mother as having an ‘endless supply of energy’ as a child. The first martial art he studied was Taekwondo. In 2001, the family moved to New Zealand with the aim of providing higher quality education opportunities for their five children.

Settling in Rotorua on the shores of Lake Rotura, Adesanya began his studies at Rotorua Boys’ High School at the age of 11. At the school he experienced bullying — something he has written about as giving him the drive to pursue fighting over studying.

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Inspired by the film Ong Bak: Muy Thai Warrior, Adesanya began kickboxing at the age of 18 and quit his studies just two years later to drive his career in the sport forward. His amateur record sat at an astonishing 32-0. Adesanya made the move to China where he began his professional career. He is reported as saying that he struggled to get settled with his life in China, having to face fighters who were much more experienced than him, barriers in language and being so far away from home.

At the age of 21, Adesanya relocated to Auckland, New Zealand where he began further training in mixed martial arts with the guidance of Eugene Bareman.

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His career begins

Adesanya began his professional career with kickboxing and in May 2010 won his first fight against Tim Atonio. This kicked off an impressive seven-fight winning streak. He made his professional debut in mixed martial arts in 2012, with a win against James Griffiths.

In December 2017 the press announced that Adesanya had signed a contract with UFC. His debut fight took place in 2018 at UFC 221 against Rob Wilkinson — a fight he won via a knockout in the second round.

His career in UFC has since gone from strength-to-strength, having won him additional accolades including Performance of the Night awards as well as Fight of the Night awards.

In September 2021, Adesanya announced he’d be moving from New Zealand to the United States of America to further his UFC career while also suggesting that he’d never fight in New Zealand again. This was initially due to anger he experienced at how teammate Dan Hooker was treated by the governing bodies of New Zealand during lockdown.

He does however, still currently reside in Auckland New Zealand. He has suggested interest in taking UFC to the continent of Africa as the series has yet to be held there; despite currently having three African-born champions in the event.

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Outside of his career

Fans will be interested to know that Adesanya has a passion for dance and competed in competitions across New Zealand before his career in fighting. A fan of anime, he has in the past claimed that following retiring from fighting, he dreams of launching an anime production company, to rival other cemented tv series. His nickname “The Last Stylebender” is a reference to an anime-style series known as Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Adesanya has sponsorship deals with Puma as well as being the ambassador for online casino Stake.com. He is multilingual and can speak in Nigerian Pidgin, Yoruba and English.


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