Israel Adesanya Ready to Bring Back the Darkness Against Sean Strickland at UFC 293: ‘I Gotta Get Nasty”

Israel Adesanya predicts that he will knock out Sean Strickland when the pair headline UFC 293 on September 9

Israel Adesanya
Courtesy of @UFCNews on Twitter

Israel Adesanya is mere days away from his next big defense of the middleweight world title. 

On September 9, ‘The Last Stylebender’ will head to Qudos Bank Arena in Australia, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from his home in Auckland, New Zealand. There, he will once again step into the main event spotlight for a showdown with the always controversial middleweight contender Sean Strickland. 

It will be Adesanya’s first fight since taking back the title from long-time rival Alex Pereira at UFC 287. Speaking with Nik Hobbs of Sky Sports, ‘Stylebender’ spoke about his experience competing against a veritable killer like Pereira and how those experiences have shaped him.

“Experiences like that shape you. Experiences in general shape you, but those are really extreme,” Adesanya said. “The one where I lost on one of the biggest stages in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York and I’m just like, ‘I’m okay.’ 

He continued, “And then the last one where I shocked the world, and then my people who really love me felt the happiness that I was talking about in that moment because I share that with the world. That was something, man. These are the moments that shape you because… Not just the fights themselves, but what you have to go through to get those fights.”

Going into his clash with Sean Strickland in The Land Down Under, Israel Adesanya is still tapped into the happiness he achieved by besting Alex Pereira, but he knows that bringing out some of the darkness within will be key at UFC 293. 

“I’m still tapped into that [happiness], but this is a violent game so I feel like you still need a little bit of some darkness to be able to get through this,” Adesanya continued. “It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes (expletives) are trying to fight me to kill me. To take things I’ve worked for my whole life. I gotta get nasty with that person so I have to tap into that darkness.”

Israel Adesanya Will Go Into Fight Week with Plenty of Weaponized Words

Of course, his opponent is always happy to bring a little darkness to any situation. Sean Strickland’s impressive work inside the Octagon has been regularly overshadowed by his constant need to say controversial and, at times, downright vile things. This has led to many fans counting down the days until their face-off at the UFC 293 pre-fight press event, anticipating what will come out of Strickland’s mouth while surrounded by members of the media and his opponent.

“I’ve got some trash-talk of my own,” Adesanya said. “I’ve owned the guy behind the scenes so many times. Between me and him and I even got one of it on tape where he couldn’t keep the same energy, but it’s in front of people he likes to show off, but backstage he quietens up again. I’m just like, ‘Oh, there’s no crowd here.’ But guess what? There’s no crowd in that cage either. It’s just me and him. 

“Trust me, when you’ve met someone and you’ve met them on that kind of level when it comes to battle or violence, and they want to perform for the crowd, that’s cool. But when it’s just you and them alone and the energy’s not kept. Like, [Alex] Pereira kept the same energy no matter what. I saw him at the airport randomly out of nowhere. His instant reaction was (scowl), but he lightened up and we were able to talk about his fight coming up. He’s a real gangster. 

“Sean’s just a… I don’t even have the words right now. It’s just that ‘blah.’ So, I know who he is and it’s going to be me and him along in that cage.”

The bout will be Sean Strickland’s first crack at UFC gold since signing with the promotion nearly a decade ago. Not only has ‘Stylebender’ gifted Strickland with the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts career, but he also helped the California native get his first passport. 

“You know that kid in the back of the class that disrupts the class by talking over people to try and get his point across? That’s him. He has really nothing of value to say so he just… The worst thing he can find about me is that I acted in China. I acted on a skit in China and he’s using that as like, ‘Oh, look at this guy.’ Yeah, I traveled and worked around the world. You’ve never even left your country.

“I actually just got him his first passport. This is breaking news. I just got him his first passport to leave the country.”

As for how he sees things playing out in the UFC 293 headliner, Adesanya has every intention of finishing ‘Tarzan’ in spectacular fashion.

“I’m gonna knock him out. It’s not ego or nothing. It’s just one plus one is two. I’m gonna knock out Sean Strickland. It’s that simple.”

Published on September 1, 2023 at 3:32 pm
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