Chael Sonnen believes Israel Adesanya’s star power could surpass Conor McGregor.
In the history of MMA, there hasn’t been a fighter who has reached the popularity level of ‘The Notorious.’ The former two-division UFC champion continues to generate news headlines, but Sonnen thinks Adesanya could be catching up to McGregor as the biggest draw in MMA.
At UFC 290, Adesanya stole Dricus Du Plessis’s moment by verbally attacking him after defeating Robert Whittaker. During the latest episode of The MMA Hour, Sonnen discussed how the controversial scene caused by the UFC middleweight champion could help take him to the next level in popularity:
“There’s a different game being played here by Izzy. You want to know who should be watching this? It’s not Du Plessis, and it’s not the rest of the division. It’s Conor McGregor. Izzy’s coming for his spot. Izzy is coming for top draw in the sport, and he’s not that far away. By the way, he truly made that program for me.”
Du Plessis’ win against Whittaker will likely lead to a middleweight title shot in his next Octagon appearance. With that said, it’s not guaranteed that ‘Stillknocks’ will be Adesanya’s next opponent. ‘The Last Stylebender’ plans to headline UFC 293 in September, and he needs an available title challenger.
Only time will tell if Du Plessis can make the two-month turnaround.
Chael Sonnen compares Israel Adesanya’s appearance at UFC 290 to Conor McGregor’s at BKFC 41
On April 29, Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship held their biggest event of the year, which was headlined by Mike Perry vs. Luke Rockhold. During the highly-anticipated fight card, Conor McGregor showed up at the event, adding a massive amount of attention.
During the same episode of The MMA Hour, Chael Sonnen compared McGregor’s appearance at BKFC 41 to Adesanya’s faceoff with Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 290:
“What Adesanya did, that show’s not the same. I was at a Bare Knuckle show about two months ago, and Conor McGregor showed up, and it was a massive deal from a perspective of entertainment. From having something to look forward to that you weren’t promised, it wasn’t on the marquee. The presence of Conor was greatly felt, and it was discussed in the media long after… Now I’m seeing that Izzy can play that same game, and he can play it very powerfully.”
If Adesanya were to pass McGregor in popularity, it would likely be to ‘The Notorious’ being inactive. The former two-division UFC champion hasn’t fought since August 2021 as he looks to overcome issues with USADA to return.
Meanwhile, Adesanya has fought four times since McGregor’s last Octagon appearance. ‘The Last Stylebender’ also has the opportunity to fight once or twice before the Dublin native is approved by USADA.
— FITE (@FiteTV) April 30, 2023