“The Last Stylebender” has occupied the 185-pound throne since a thrilling knockout win over Robert Whittaker in 2019, which followed a memorable five-round war with Kelvin Gastelum for interim gold earlier in the year.
But despite those results, as well as a subsequent quick defense against Paulo Costa, having Adesanya sat high on the popularity ladder and seemingly well renowned for his skills inside the Octagon, his recent performances have somewhat flipped the script.
As well as his last three defenses reaching the scorecards, the Nigerian-New Zealander’s most recent result fell short of the level of entertainment many expected, with some fans, fighters, and pundits criticizing Adesanya’s approach.
With that, it’s arguable that more fans than ever are hoping to see Adesanya dethroned, with the next opportunity for that to happen set for this weekend at UFC 281. In the headliner, Alex Pereira — who was a vocal critic of the champ’s fighting style earlier this year — will look to secure a third win over Adesanya in combat sports.
Ahead of the Madison Square Garden-held event, Adesanya has touched upon the common fan sentiment surrounding his current place atop the middleweight mountain, comparing it to that of some other notable UFC greats.
Adesanya Experiences Same Fan Sentiment As Jones
During an interview with TMZ Sports, Adesanya was asked about the flack he’s received for the manner of his recent defenses, and whether he believes many are praying on his downfall.
While he’s had his disagreements with former two-time light heavyweight king Jon Jones in the past, Adesanya did compare his current situation to the scenario “Bones” experienced during his reigns.
“It’s because you’re great. I’ve said this. It happened to Anderson Silva, it’s happened to GSP — even happened to Jon Jones at one point. Yeah, when you’re as great as I am and you’re on top for so long, they wanna shake the snow globe a little bit,” Adesanya said. “They wanna see, ‘What if he loses? What’s gonna happen?’
“I did lose in the Jan fight, and I didn’t give them the reaction that they wanted. They expected me to be like, ‘Ah! No!’ (simulates wrist-cutting gesture) I was just like, ‘Yep, cool, what’s next?’ That’s just me. But yeah, people do want you to lose when you’re as great as I am,” Adesanya added. “Society does that, it builds you up just so it can tear you down. But not today.”
Should Adesanya’s conclusion on the fan narrative be correct, he’ll be looking to put a downer on the nights of many at UFC 281 by adding a sixth successful title defence to his impressive record.
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