Nigeria born Israel Adesanya knows what is on the horizon if he can beat Anderson Silva at UFC 234 on Saturday, and he appears more than prepared for it.
After making his octagon debut almost exactly one year ago, Adesanya’s (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) quick rise to UFC stardom could take a massive leap forward if he can defeat the former longtime UFC middleweight champion Silva (34-8 MMA, 17-4 UFC) in the co-headlining bout at UFC 234.
Adesanya will get a fight against the winner of the UFC 234 main event between 185-pound champ Robert Whittaker (20-4 MMA, 11-2 UFC) and challenger Kelvin Gastelum (16-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) if he’s able to top “The Spider.”
He said he prefers the matchup with Whittaker and would like him to keep the belt, but made it clear he’s not looking past Silva.
“(Whittaker and I) have big tests ahead of us, both of us,” MMAjunkie quotes Adesanya while talking to reporters at the UFC 234 pre-fight news conference.
“I’ve seen the odds this week and man, y’all must’ve forgot, like Roy Jones says. You don’t know who that man over there Anderson Silva? I think a lot of you new fans weren’t around during his reign, what it felt like. You might’ve come around the (Ronda) Rousey era or the (Conor) McGregor era, but you don’t realize who this guy is.”
Adesanya then gave Silva – who still owns the record for longest title reign in UFC history at 2,457 days and will be returning from a two-year layoff – somewhat of a backhanded compliment.
“He brought me into this game,” Adesanya said. “This guy inspired me to believe a skinny black guy can just come in here and (expletive) everyone out. He brought me into this game and for me, it’ll be an honor to take him out the game.”
UFC 234 takes place at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.
UFC President Dana White confirmed at the UFC 234 pre-fight news conference that Adesanya vs. Silva is a title eliminator for both athletes. That narrative has largely surrounded Silva in the weeks leading up to the fight, but “The Style Bender” said he’s held that knowledge for some time.
Now he’s happy the world is privy to it, as well.
“The cat’s out the bag,” Adesanya said. “I’m about to be champion 2019.”