Israel Adesanya is sharpening his skills ahead of his UFC 293 title defense against Sean Strickland, and he offered an interesting hint about how the fight could finish in Sydney.
Adesanya and Strickland have both built their respective successes off the back of their striking skills. But Adesanya said that his first career submission victory isn’t too far away.
“It’s coming. I promise you, it’s coming,” he told Stake.com.
“I’m getting the neck from these motherf*****s. I’m taking their breath away, romantically. I can’t wait, it’s coming.
“You should see me in the gym, I’m nice with it, but I’m still learning. Under the lights, there is going to be a moment that I take a neck. I’m a purple belt by colour but I still feel like a white belt.”
Adesanya has been grappling on the mats of City Kickboxing with jiu-jitsu ace Craig Jones, who has been putting him through the wringer to help improve the Kiwi’s submission game ahead of the matchup.
“That’s my dog, I love that dude,” he said.
“I call him a ninja sloth. He’s such a chilled guy, but can f**k you up. What I love about him is that he has no ego. The guy can roll me up and spit me out, but he’s doing it to help me.
“Most other guys in his position would have this ego. When I train with people like that I feel yuck. Like today, I got my ass handed to me by damn near everybody in the gym, but there’s no ego. Sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail, but them kicking my ass is making me better.
Adesanya also had some opinions about the UFC’s official pound-for-pound rankings, as he claimed that it’s he, and not Alexander Volkanovski or Jon Jones, who should be listed at the top of the pound-for-pound charts.
“I never check, I just scroll past that,” he said.
“I know that I’m the best, why would you give a f**k about someone’s opinion about you? I am the best. You need to be Player 1 in your own life, people should see themselves as Player 1.
“When it’s all said and done, they still might have me as number 10 on the list, but I wouldn’t give a shit. Those who love me and appreciate my art, and how I express myself with my art and in life can enjoy the things I’ve left behind.”
Such has been Adesanya’s success in MMA, it’s easy to forget that he was an elite-level kickboxer before he event stepped foot inside a cage for a professional MMA bout. But, despite his accolades and achievements, “The Last Stylebender” says he won’t rest on his laruels.
“It happens two or three times a year where I stop and cast my mind back. It usually happens on a plane, two or three times a year I’ll look back and marvel at what I’ve done,” he said.
“But I don’t like to constantly marvel at what I’ve done, I like to move forward. Even in kickboxing, I remember when I was 40-0, I had my first loss, and it was only then I thought ‘Oh s**t’, that’s crazy, 40 is a lot. I’m sure at the end of my career I’ll look back and think what the f**k, what a crazy ride.”