Nigerian Fighter Israel Adesanya Earns Interim UFC Middleweight Title In Unforgettable Match
It's already being called "the fight of the year"
Nigerian MMA fighter Israel Adesanya earned himself a major title on Saturday, when he won the UFC 236 co-main event. MMA Weekly has called it the possible Fight of The Year.
The 29-year-old athlete took home the title after winning a tough match against Kevin Gastelum, which lasted 25-minutes and a total of five rounds. After with the judges picked Adesanya as the winner by unanimous decision.
The athlete celebrated his win on Twitter. Quoting the late rapper Nipsey Hussle whose music he walked out to, writing, "Spoke some things into the universe, and they appear."
"I don't think about scorecards. All I need is one round. I kept on saying in my native tongue, heart of a lion," se said in a post-math interview. "I have a tattoo of Nigeria with a lion inside on my chest. I was willing to die," he said. "I knew I was willing to give it all and leave it all in there."
The win has solidified the champion's 16-0 record, and has further cemented his status as a force in the UFC world. Next, he'll face middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
In March, Nigerian-American fighter Kamaru Usman made history by becoming the first African UFC champion, and Adesanya is joining him in bringing African representation to the MMA world. The fighter spoke about his desire to bring the title to the continent and to have Usman involved.
He shared a picture of himself and Usman holding their UFC heavyweight belts on Instagram following his win.
"Imagine that," he is quoted as saying in the New Zealand publication Stuff. "Two young Nigerian boys who uprooted from Africa to look for a better way of life and then to go back to show the success we've had. I think that would be massive and inspire a lot of people."
Going through adversity in another land and then going back to show the fruits of our labour... I think it would be powerful," he added.
Following the fight, fans—particularly Nigerians—expressed their enthusiasm over Adesanya's big win.