There are high expectations for the UFC 243 event headlined by Robert Whittaker defending his UFC middleweight championship against interim champion Israel Adesanya, and Adesanya believes those expectations were set so high because of the challenger, not the champion.
Israel Adesanya will attempt to become the official UFC middleweight champion this Saturday at UFC 243, an event that Dana White has anticipated will break attendance records. In an interview with Submission Radio, Adesanya explained why the promotion decided to hold the event in Marvel Stadium, which has a capacity of over 50,000 people.
“If it was Rob or anyone else…it could be Robert/Romero part 3, it could be Rob and Chris Weidman, it could be Rob and anyone else, it would not be at Marvel Stadium,” Adesanya said. “It would not be in that kind of an echelon, that kind of a capacity, because it’s just Rob. But at the same time, this is me.”
Adesanya credits this to a couple of different factors, primarily his visibility compared to his peers, including the reigning champion:
“We have to just be honest. We can’t just lie about it,” Adesanya said. “I’ve been the one pushing the culture forward for fighting down here with my team. And he, unfortunately, hasn’t been because, unfortunately, he’s been pulling out sick.
“And that’s OK. I called in sick back in my old job once in a while. I know the vibes. But, yeah, I’m the one pushing the culture forward, so let’s put it this way: if it was anyone else with Rob, it would not be in Marvel stadium. It wouldn’t sell out the way it has been. But because it’s me, that’s why.
“There’s a reason why I’m getting paid more than him, substantially more than him,” Adesanya continued. “There’s a reason why my stock is much higher than him.”
What do you make of Israel Adesanya taking full credit for UFC 243’s buzz and high box-office expectations?