Israel Adesnia is currently one of the most influential fighters in the UFC, having successfully defended its middleweight title four times. The latest defense came against Rob Whitaker, whom he knocked out at their last crossing. This time, the victory came in the form of a unanimous decision after five rounds at UFC 271. Although the champion comfortably sits at the top of the rankings and has been a kickboxing champion before, his star is still rising in the world. Mixed martial arts. Not only sound education but his alertness and dedication too are most required.
“I’m an entertainer by nature,” says Adesnia Men’s Journal. His passion for performance outside of the norm and his quest to master all fighting styles where his nickname “The Last Stylebender” fits, is a reference to Nickelodeon’s animated series. Avatar: The Last Airbender. The action cartoon also makes an appearance on his arm, where he is the tattooed character of Tuff Beifong. “I watch anime for fight scenes, and I try to bring their philosophy to my end.”
We talked with Adesanya about her favorite show, training camp, Brush with Hollywood and who she plans to fight.
Men’s Journal: Going into a title defense where you’ve already defeated the fighter, how do you make sure you’re not going over the overconfident octagon?
Israel Adesnia: There is an element to it that you need to address, but there is also an additional urgency because I can’t really lose to this guy. I have already beaten him. I’ve been inspired to work and I’m moving it forward. Although I’ve been a winner before, I do my best to find ways to do it in a more impressive fashion if possible.
The first time you scored in a knockout was quite flawless. How did you find that moment?
Even during our first fight I didn’t go according to our game plan. For this I brought back some old weapons that I wanted to use while upgrading. Honestly, I want to be more fluid in deciding this last fight, because there was a time when I saw the opportunity to take him out. I was feeling very comfortable in the south, and I should have leaned towards it. But in the end, I decided to stick with our original game plan.
When did the UFC 271 combat camp start?
This is what we started in November last year and there was a lockdown in Auckland. I used that time to get to the best shape of my life, to go to a camp doing these gel-style workouts with my best friend Chance. He also worked as a personal trainer, so he knew what he was doing. That means he also had some equipment at home. We’ve set up some TRX bands to add body weight training to doors and sandbags. I got quite swollen. I brought that body to my camp. I was fat, more muscular, and had gas for a few days. During fight camp, I work out two to three times a day. I work all day like everyone else, but it’s probably a lot more fun than other gigs.
How strict is your diet during the war camp?
Everyone knows I’m one of the healthiest people in the world, vegetarian and gluten-free. Just kidding! I like to enjoy life. Food is one of the great equivalents of this world, and one of the things I look forward to most when I travel the world. I like to eat when I’m in America – the more hateful and sweet the better. I’m glad I got my metabolism, because without me we would have problems. I try to eat relatively healthy food when I am in training camp, but in the last few weeks I have really dialed it. I shut down Uber It’s. During Fight Week I work hard with The Fight Dietitian. He knows what to put in my diet to fully optimize me. On the actual day of the war I tend not to eat. I want to earn my kill.
Have you tried using and true training exercises during camp?
Heel sprint. There is a road in Auckland where we have been going for a decade called Air Street. That mountain has made many champions. It’s a mountain that can’t be hit, no one is. It takes a minute and a half to run. And you have a total of three minutes to go back. The time you have left is your rest time. I’ve gotten close to hitting the record there, but haven’t really been able to climb to the top in time. I did it with ten seconds left and no one has lost it yet. It’s a fucked up hill, man. It is a soul destroyer. We had to do these sprints at our camp one summer, and it was a pain. I take off my shirt at the beginning now, because I know that in one round I will get absolutely wet.
The practice is about pushing yourself. It’s not about beating someone else’s time. It’s about beating yourself and your own doubts. It is good to train these mental states – how you can cross those boundaries. I know exactly when I hit my first wall. The first obstacle that is being overcome. The second wall comes through this driveway, and I’m looking forward to deeper excavation methods. I need that energy to get to the finals in the UFC.
What new strategies or disciplines have you adopted to improve your game?
I recently returned home to Auckland and started breathing training with my guy Dave Wood. He is from Piha and has a very unique way of thinking. He gave me red pills [so to speak]. My eyes were open to how we change the way we breathe and how we perform. There are a lot of people out there who are constantly breathing through their mouths and even athletes don’t realize it. So once he showed me that there was a new level to unlock, I went to Gear Three. You can see it during the fight but even in the round, when my eyes are closed, only focus. This is probably the most recent game-changer. I have been working closely with him for about nine or ten months.
How did you translate this last battle?
I was more involved in this fight than any previous fight. I got a few flashes after the battle, though a few milliseconds, but it was. You cannot lose focus in a fight at this level. You can’t A momentary delay in judgment can cost you dearly. It’s a quick way to wake up and look at the light. But I had no chance of losing because I was more present in this fight.
Given that you are champ, there is a lot in your next fight. How do you make sure your body is taken care of?
I am doing prehab instead of rehabilitation. I have a massage therapist, physiotherapist, and chiropractor whom I see once a week during combat camps. I still feel very young, but I am not as young as before. I don’t recover the same. It takes a long time. I can’t party all night then I’ll be fresh in the gym in the morning. I need to constantly take care of my bones and my flexibility. I use Theragun on my feet, especially before heel sprints.
What are you waiting for the most after winning?
My shower. There is a lot of excitement after the war in the Octagon, being dragged here and there. First you are going to do a medical check up, then you have to sit down with the media. Once that is over I go to the shower with my empty essentials. Then everything else in the world was snatched away. To me that place is like a white house The uterus When Neo was first tapped in his training. The next thing I really need is a great meal. I’d like to try the local cuisine, or the area which is being talked about.
What would you say to those who are calling for a third fight between you and Rob Whitaker?
For what? The only people who are calling for another fight between me and him are the ones who want to lose me. I have already beaten him twice. I knocked him out the first time, and beat him the last time. I’m ready for the next chapter.
Do you have anyone in the section set your vision?
I’m ready to fight the next Jared Canonier. I think he played great in his last fight and I already told him he would do it because I need some new challengers. I am excited for some new blood in the octagon with me. I know he wants work too. I have a fair play plan for what I’m going to do to lose him. I know my trainers are watching videos and ready to come up with their own ideas.
You are undefeated in your category, but who gave you the biggest competition?
Kelvin Gastellam was my biggest challenge, because he was the biggest threat at the time. He forced me to dig deeper into that other level. I knew I had that fighting spirit in me and this fight unlocked it. Going into the fifth round, I felt the most adversity, because I knew we were tied at that moment. It’s about who wants more in that moment. I’m not sure what you see in the video, but I told him face to face, “You can’t hit me.” I was ready to die. What a glorious death. Not only was I ready to die, I was ready to die.
There have already been some impressive technical knockouts, but do you have a rice or finisher that you hope to land in the future?
I’m trying to snatch someone’s neck to be honest. I’ve done this a few times in the past, like when I grabbed the necks of Brad Tavares and Kelvin Gastellam. I could have done it in my last fight with Rob Whitaker, but unfortunately I didn’t believe in my instincts. I am drilling the deposits during my springing session and they come easily to me. Soon someone will be caught with one, I tell you.
You’ve got some great supporters like The Rock. What was it like to send him a little carbohydrate load to you before your fight?
It was awesome. He sent me Brick French Toast, aka The Rock Toast. It’s too thick … with that coconut flakes. I want to have more now. I think I need to see him a few more times to really sink it. I grew up watching him fight in the WWE in that attitude era. Back when he was fucking guys on the mic, then fuck them in the ring with rock bottom. I met him once in New York, and he’s just a great guy at a very high level. Young Easy is still afraid that I’m just talking to The Rock as if it’s nothing.
Looks like you’re getting more and more connected to Hollywood. Do you have any plans to act in action movies?
In June, we got a really big offer that was right up my alley. But unfortunately I did not have the O-1 visa, which I needed to work. That being said, I’m ready now if the right project comes up. The game against Tony Ja will be exciting Ong-bak. Kianu Reeves would be great too. Rock, too. I would like to see an onscreen match between us, maybe CGI.
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