Adesanya’s grievances with his nation’s government and media entities has long been documented, with the MMA star making his thoughts on the treatment of City Kickboxing and his teammates known on social media and in interviews.
“The Last Stylebender” even looked set to move to the United States following the stifling of the sport in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw other sports granted exemptions to train, while the likes of Dan Hooker were forced to prepare for fights from their garages, and were even cautioned by police for using their own personal gym facilities.
“You will never see me fight in New Zealand ever again, ever again,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “All that money, they can get it from somewhere else: The rugby, the cricket, and all the others they’re giving exemptions to. But for me, you will never ever see me fight on these shores.” (h/t MMA Junkie)
The attitude towards the sport perhaps comes as a surprise given the immense success that the Oceanic region has seen in recent times.
As well as New Zealand-born Australian Robert Whittaker holding the middleweight title prior to Adesanya’s crowning, Alexander Volkanovski is currently in possession of the featherweight belt, while flyweight Kai Kara-France is preparing to challenge for interim gold next month.
During a recent UFC press conference held in Sydney, Adesanya, who sat alongside Volkanovski and Kara-France, praised the talent coming out of the region, and criticized New Zealand’s “bureaucrats” and media for not shining enough of a light on it.
“There’s one champion [points to himself], two champions [points to Volkanovski], and about to be a third champion [points to Kara-France] from this region of the world. Let’s just soak that in for a second,” said Adesanya. “It’s mind-boggling. It’s something that’s never been done from this side of the world in this era.
“I feel like, ’cause MMA is a relatively new sport — Oh, that f*cking word I hate, ‘It’s not a traditional sport,’ all these Kiwi bureaucrats like to use,” added Adesanya. “They don’t shine enough light on it. That’s why we’re here in Australia, because your media actually is more MMA friendly than Kiwi media… It’s not as hailed.”
Adesanya: NZ Media Will “Kick Themselves”
With three Oceanic fighters competing in title fights next month, as well as a host of rising stars in action soon, Adesanya expects the MMA success coming out of that part of the world to only increase.
And with that, the Nigerian-born New Zealander believes that those media members who look to stifle its growth will look back on their decision with regret in 20 years’ time.
“This is something I feel like they’re missing out on, and when it’s like 20 years down the line, some people will kick themselves and be like, ‘Man, we should’ve really put our best foot behind these guys. We shouldn’t have tried to break up their camp while they were in camp, while other teams were able to have isolated camps.’ … I feel like they’re gonna kick themselves,” said Adesanya.
“That’s why I said to myself, ’cause of the way they treated Dan (Hooker) and my team, I will never ever fight in New Zealand ever again.”
Are you surprised that the Kiwi media hasn’t gotten behind their countries’ leading mixed martial artists?