While “The Last Stylebender” left Las Vegas at the culmination of International Fight Week with a fifth title defense secured and a fresh 185-pound victim added to his unblemished divisional résumé, the reaction of some fans, fighters, and pundits certainly wouldn’t make you think it.
Despite the UFC 276 headliner featuring a champion and challenger who’d both promised big things when it comes to entertainment and a finishing sequence, what fans witnessed was a 25-minute affair that left the crowd in attendance booing and MMA enthusiasts watching from home disappointed.
While Adesanya initially showed some disappointment at the performance, he’s since defended it online and in interviews. And though he’s had some on his side, as well as the likes of Henry Cejudo and Hollywood star Chris Pratt apologizing for their post-fight criticisms, not everyone has backed the Nigerian-New Zealander.
After light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith and former middleweight titleholder Robert Whittaker suggested that Adesanya brought the post-fight reaction onto himself with a lackluster performance, rising star Chimaev has become the latest to denounce “The Last Stylebender.”
Chimaev: Money May Have Changed Adesanya’s Motivation
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Chimaev, who’s competed at both welterweight and middleweight under the UFC banner, assessed Adesanya’s latest successful title retention.
After noting that the champ’s past fights were a lot more impressive, a sentiment shared by many given the way defenses against Yoel Romero, Marvin Vettori, and now Cannonier played out, “Borz” suggested that Adesanya has likely lost his motivation owing to the money the sport has brought him.
“I don’t know what happened with him last time. He (fought) better before. Now, maybe he’s not that hungry, you know?” Chimaev said. “He’s driving like, crazy cars and this sh*t — has a lot of money. It makes some people — they change. When you’re hungry, you fight crazy, like he did before. Now, I don’t know. He just makes the points and wins the fights. It’s boring.”
If fighting crazy truly is the measure of hunger inside the Octagon, Chimaev has certainly got enough evidence for himself. Last time out, the Chechen-born Swede went to war with Gilbert Burns, with both men leaving everything inside the Octagon across what was a bloody and brutal 15 minutes of action.
After emerging victorious on the scorecards, Chimaev entered the welterweight top five and moved a large step closer to the 170-pound gold. While dethroning Kamaru Usman is his immediate goal, the Allstars Training Center product has expressed his multi-division desires, which includes handing Adesanya his first middleweight blemish.
Should the Nigerian-New Zealander maintain his grip on the 185-pound crown in the coming months and years, and if Chimaev reaches the welterweight mountaintop, perhaps the Chechen-born Swede will have the chance to prove his motivational edge over Adesanya inside the Octagon.
Do you agree with Khamzat Chimaev? Has Israel Adesanya lost his hunger?