Israel Adesanya delivered a comeback performance for the ages at UFC 287, then gave a passionate post-fight speech as he implored the fans watching his success to be inspired to greatness in their own lives.
Adesanya produced a stunning second-round knockout to finish Alex Pereira and reclaim the undisputed UFC middleweight title in Miami, then used his post-fight interview to encourage others to reach their goals.
After asking Joe Rogan if he could take the mic, Adesanya spoke straight down the camera lens as he sent a message to everyone watching.
“Hey, shush! Listen up! I want to say something!” he said.
“People! Earth! I need to say something! Listen to me. I hope every one of you behind the screens or in this arena can feel this level of happiness, just one time in your life.
“I hope all of you can feel how f*****g happy I am, just one time in your life. But guess what, you will never feel this level of happiness if you don’t go for something in your own life – when they knock you down, when they try to s**t on you, when they talk s**t about you, and try and put their foot on your neck.
“If you stay down, you will never ever get that result. Fortify your mind and feel this level of happiness and let’s rise. One time your life, but I’m blessed to be able to feel that, again and again and again and again and again!”
Speaking to Rogan about the fight, Adesanya said that it felt good to exact revenge on Pereira, who stopped him in the final round to win the title at UFC 281. But he also took the opportunity to show respect to his rival.
“They say revenge is sweet. And, if you know me, I got a sweet tooth!” he said.
“I’m telling you, no matter what, Alex is a great champion.
“He lost the belt tonight, but he will always be a champion. In his story, I’m the antagonist. In his story, I’m the bad guy. But tonight is my story… history!
“I told you, the hunter is now the hunted. I told him this before. Thank you. Thank you for all that you’ve done. Thank you for beating me, because (by) beating me, he made me a better fighter, a better person, and this camp I didn’t f**k around.
“If you know me, you know I like to vacation, but I didn’t f**k around. I stayed on the grind and I put myself through it. You’ve been seeing me on Freestylebender on YouTube. I don’t put my highlights on the ‘Gram. I put the work. I get tired so that way, when I’m in here, I don’t get tired.”
And, recapping the stunning finish to the fight, Adesanya said six years of frustration were released in the final shot of the bout.
“I played possum a bit,” he said, describing how he covered up against the cage.
“That last one had everything since 2017. That last hammerfist was from the gods!”