‘They Don’t Want To Lose Him That Fast’
Israel Adesanya is back on top of the Middleweight mountain.
UFC 287 saw Adesanya get redemption over longtime rival, Alex Pereira, with a nasty second-round two-punch knockout (watch highlights). The win was Adesanya’s first over “Poatan” in four attempts across kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA), resulting in his recapturing of the UFC title.
Adesanya is next expected to defend at UFC 293 on Sept. 10, 2023, in Sydney, Australia against the winner of UFC 290’s Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis match up on July 8, 2023. However, nothing is set in stone considering the quick turnaround nature that pairing entails along with the winner needing to come out healthy enough to do so.
He’s not a top-ranked Middleweight contender at this moment, but No. 4-ranked Welterweight, Khamzat Chimaev, has teased his return to 185 pounds since his last win over Kevin Holland in Sept. 2022. Therefore, “Borz” feels he’s the only option despite knowing it won’t happen for business-related purposes.
“For Israel, there’s nobody there — only me,” Chimaev said on his YouTube channel (h/t MMA Junkie). “So if you spoke about money, if you ask the fans, they want to see me and Israel. I’m a bad matchup for him. Everyone knows he’s going to lose the title [to me]. That’s why they save that guy.
“You know they built up him,” he continued. “They don’t want to lose him that fast. [I’d] finish that guy without punches, and that’s why they’re scared. Then [his] story’s dead, you know? They don’t want to kill that guy. Maybe the guy makes money for them, but I still make money, as well, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
Stylistically, Chimaev makes for one of the most unique and toughest challenges Adesanya’s ever been presented with. The undefeated 12-0 wrestler has been a dominant force in all his outings outside of one. Just looking at their track records, Chimaev has full confidence he’s the right (and wrong) fight for the champion next.
“Who is he going to fight? There is nobody,” Chimaev said. “He wins against all the strikers, and I’m a wrestler — a killer. I squeeze the heads of my opponents. I’m the biggest name without the belt. When you fight with me, it’s more money, more fans. When I fight, everyone is waiting for my fight. When I fought with Gilbert [Burns], we weren’t main event, [but] everyone was waiting for us.”