Israel Adesanya gained his retribution, and regained the UFC middleweight title, with his knockout of Alex Pereira at UFC 287. Now he wants to move on to new challenges.
Chatting backstage after his second-round stoppage of Pereira in Miami, Adesanya said that he enjoyed recapturing the belt just as much, and perhaps even more, than he did when he won it the first time.
“They say it doesn’t feel as good as your first time,” he said.
“But I’m telling you, the second time is even sweeter.”
Adesanya was facing plenty of doubters heading into the bout, with Pereira having defeated him twice previously in kickboxing, and once in the UFC. But Adesanya stayed focused and determined throughout, and arrived in the Octagon looking arguably more driven and focused than ever for his rematch.
“I know who I am. I can bring it and take it over when I need to,” Adesanya explained.
“For this fight camp, this fight, I had to. Like I said, they forgot. They forgot what I’ve done in this game, what I’ve done for this game, and just because you’ve been down and out by the same person doesn’t mean that I’m gonna stay down.
“I’ve watched too much anime, I’ve seen too many flashbacks and animes to just like, ‘Oh no. I’m gonna stay down.’ You’ve get back up again, and you try until you get it done.”
With his title back around his waist and a decisive victory claimed over his old rival, Adesanya said he wants to move on to fresh chapters and new challenges in his career. And, after taking a quick moment to greet his rival, Adesanya returned to continue his interview as he stated his intention to seek out new challengers for his title.
“We closed (the rivalry). It’s done. I’m done with this s**t,” he stated.
“I don’t want to fight the same guy three times in a row, because I have less than 20 fights in this game. I’m 33, I could probably go on for as long as I want to. But less than 20 fights, I think, I have in this game, if I’m being honest. So I just want to fight new faces and take new heads. That’s what I want to do in this game.”
Adesanya is about to enter a fresh new chapter of his career as he begins his second reign as undisputed UFC middleweight champion, and he said he hoped his journey, and his return to the top of the sport, will help inspire others to chase their own goals.
“It just shows the human spirit, the power of the human mind, and the fighting spirit,” he said of his performance.
“I said at the press conference, I wanted to show my fighting spirit, and I meant that in every sense of the word and I felt like I did just that tonight.”
And his message to his fans?
“Honestly, believe in yourself,” he stated.
“No matter how many times you get knocked down, always get back up. Always get back up and fight for what you want.”