At UFC 276, Adesanya headlined the International Fight Week-held pay-per-view in Las Vegas with the fifth defense of his 185-pound gold. Having competed in back-to-back rematches against Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker, the Nigerian-New Zealander got his much-desired fresh blood on July 2.
But while “The Killa Gorilla” presented a new challenger for the champ, the result was to be no different. Across five rounds, Adesanya comfortably outpointed Cannonier, securing a unanimous decision victory.
Given the reception the performance received in real time from fans inside the T-Mobile Arena, it’s perhaps no surprise that Adesanya has received criticism for what many perceived to be a disappointing performance, including fellow fighters like Anthony Smith, who suggested that the display wasn’t what “The Last Stylebender” had promised beforehand.
While he initially appeared downcast about his performance, although recently changed his tune, Adesanya has consistently denied the narrative that his recent defenses have been ‘boring’. Instead, the Nigerian-New Zealander is always looking to be the opposite.
Adesanya On Cannonier Defense: “I Made Sure I Didn’t Wait”
During a recent interview uploaded to his YouTube channel, Adesanya discussed the suggestion that he didn’t do enough to entertain at UFC 276.
According to the middleweight king, he is “playing the game” perfectly right now, and the memorable finishes will come soon enough. Adesanya also insisted that he isn’t looking to “coast” while in possession of the 185-pound gold, which he says is the reason why he pushed the pace in the final round versus Cannonier.
“Right now, I’m in it. People can’t see the forest for the trees. This is a thing that happens a lot. People can’t see the forest for the trees, so they throw their toys, shake their rattle and whatnot,” Adesanya said. “But go down the line, when all is said and done, and my career is finished, we’ll see who was the guy. Like Eugene [Bareman] said, these spectacular knockouts will come… but right now, it’s about playing the game.
“We’re doing just what we need to do. People say, ‘Ah, you didn’t take risks.’ That was a criticism I got in my last fight. And I was like, ‘Did I not take risks? I’m pretty sure I did.’ But later on, I was waiting too long… this fight, I made sure I didn’t wait. That’s why I put that clip (online) of me in the fifth round, to show I was actually working,” Adesanya continued. “As a champion, you can coast, yeah, that’s cool. But I don’t want to be the guy that just coasts. I want to put work in people, even in the fifth round… I can. I know I can. So, I tried in this fight.”
Adesanya will no doubt be hoping that one of those “spectacular knockouts” comes next time out when he faces two-time kickboxing opponent Alex Pereira. With a brutal KO win against Sean Strickland on the same card as the champ’s latest defense, “Poatan” seemingly secured status as number one contender.
Given the pair’s history, which includes the Brazilian handing Adesanya his only career KO loss, it stands to reason that the Nigerian-New Zealander will look to return the favor against Pereira when they share the cage for the first time.
What did you make of Israel Adesanya’s most recent title defense?