We do not know who the next opponent will be. However, we can look at several possible challengers and narrow down the options.
Victory over Robert Whittaker at UFC 271
Adesanya most recently fought at in the main event of UFC 271 back on February 21st. He battled Robert Whittaker in Houston, Texas, and picked up a unanimous decision to conclude their storied rivalry. Robert Whittaker was a challenge, but he was outclassed by the 32-year-old fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand.
The win improved Izzy’s MMA record to 22-1. The performance also propelled him to become the number two ranked fighter in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
Adesanya is in a very important stage of his MMA career. He has already shown the world what he can do. He’s reached the top of the mountain and deserves the “champion” title he has earned. It is now about racking up an impressive streak of wins as champion. Of course, it’s not just about numbers or a streak. He needs to fight against top-caliber fighters to cement a legacy for himself that will stand up over time.
Potential Next Opponents for Israel Adesanya’s Next Fight
As he continues his championship run, it’s time to start thinking about the next challenger. If we look at the Top 15 rankings, two people have stuck out as possible contenders.
The “Killa Gorilla” Jared Cannonier is ranked 2nd in the middleweight division, with a two-fight win streak.
He defeated fourth-ranked middleweight Derek Brunson at UFC 271 by KO in the 2nd round. Cannonier’s win also ended Brunson’s five-fight win streak and his chances of fighting for a UFC championship before he retires. After his win, Jared Cannonier made his case to fight Isreal Adesanya for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Cannonier won five out of his last six fights since fighting at middleweight, after beginning his UFC career as a heavyweight and light heavyweight. The “Killa Gorilla” seems to be next in line, and Israel Adesanya and UFC President Dana White also believe in thinking so.
Adesanya called him out on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani for a Pay Per View event in June or July. UFC President Dana White has also acknowledged Jared Cannonier as the next title contender and was impressed by his win against Derek Brunson at the UFC 271 post-fight press conference.
“I was excited to see that fight to see how it was going to play out. It was an awesome fight, and Yeah, I’m not going to say no to Cannonier,” said White. However, he was unsure when the fight could happen.
Adesanya vs. Cannonier would probably generate much interest from fight fans.
UFC could also be looking at another contender in the division to fight Adesanya for the middleweight title.
“I mean, Israel’s just a crafty motherfucker,” said Strickland. He continued, “Like, don’t get me wrong, we all know he does steroids, and that probably helps his performance—we all seen him fight with the titty that hung down. I mean, have you ever seen a man fight in the UFC with /gyno from weed? I mean, look at Nate Diaz; if that was the case, Nate Diaz would have tits down to his knees. Get out of here with this. (h/t Harvey Leonard)
“The Last Stylebender” wants to stay active, and Strickland is always ready to fight. Strickland’s comments about Adesanya could also sway the UFC to make them fight for the middleweight title at an event later this year.
Cannonier is probably more likely, but Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland could also be a great match-up.
When Will Israel Adesanya Fight Next?
We know wants to fight three times this year.
Israel Adesanya requested to fight in June or July. However, the UFC has announced that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka would headline UFC 275 on Jun. 11. Adesanya has only fought in the main event since become the UFC Middleweight Champion, and it’s unlikely the UFC will make him fight in the co-main event of UFC 275. It’s also unclear if the UFC already has a title fight planned for the July event.
Playing it Safe?
Israel Adesanya is dealing with being too dominant that his idol Anderson Silva had when he held the UFC Middleweight Champion.
While Adesanya is winning decisively, he has one TKO victory in his last four fights defending the title.
After his win against Robert Whittaker at UFC 271, both UFC fans and his peers believed he may have played it safe. Silva also faced criticism similar to Adesanya when he held the Middleweight belt.
Marvin Vettori criticized Adesanya’s performance on Twitter and said that he was “fighting scared” at UFC 271. Michael Chandler also showed his displeasure for the fight on social media after the event.
Israel Adesanya hopes to continue his dominance in the UFC Middleweight division. While he may not be winning by knockout lately, he still has defeated top-ranked contenders.
The champion also teased, returning to light heavyweight to become a two-division champion. For now, Adesanya will look forward to his next title fight.
Hit up the comments section and tell us what challenger makes the most sense for Israel Adesanya’s next fight.