Where is Israel Adesanya From and What is His Ethnicity?

Published 06/07/2021, 1:08 PM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 05: Israel Adesanya of Nigeria poses on the scale during the UFC 259 weigh-in at UFC APEX on March 05, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will go down in history as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. The Nigerian-born New Zealand native has created a name for himself in a brief stint in the UFC.

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‘The Last Stylebender’ was born on July 22nd, 1989, in Lagos, Nigeria. His father, Femi Adesanya, worked as an accountant, and his mother, Taiwo Adesanya, worked as a nurse.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 10: Israel Adesanya of New Zealand stands in his corner prior to his middleweight bout against Anderson Silva of Brazil during the UFC 234 at Rod Laver Arena on February 10, 2019 in the Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

He is the eldest of 5 siblings, Deborah, Samuel, David, Bolu, and himself. The Nigerian belongs to Yoruba Ethnicity with African roots, born and raised by an upper-class family.

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The Yoruba population largely lives in Nigeria and is one of the largest African ethnic groups. He spoke the Yoruba language while growing up, which is a combination of the Niger-Combo language.

Israel Adesanya: Growing up and education

The current middleweight champion had mentioned earlier that he feels privileged to come from a well-off family and was a happy kid growing up.

He did his primary education at Chrisland school at Opebi in Ikeja, Lagos. He then completed his high school education from Ota in Ogun state.

Adesanya had a keen interest in martial arts as well as dancing during his stay in the respective schools. He used to roam with friends who learned to dance and he tried to copy their moves and learn.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 06: Israel Adesanya makes his way to the Octagon for the Middleweight title bout during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Before he could complete his secondary education, his parents decided to move out of their native country to provide good education to their children.

They spent 10 months in Ghana and pondered their options going further. They had the US and New Zealand in mind and they stuck with the latter as the US was experiencing turmoil after 9/11.

The family made their new home in the city of Rotorua, where Israel completed his remaining high school education.

‘Broken Native’ and pursuing mixed martial arts

Adesanya has inked a tattoo that reads ‘Broken Native’ meaning odd one out. While growing up in New Zealand, he saw everyone focussing on studies which will lead them to a full-time paid job.

The 19-year-old Adesanya decided to move away from that path and focus on a career in mixed martial arts. He was inspired by watching the ‘Ong-Bak’ movie in 2008. The action thriller was released in 2003.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: Israel Adesanya of Nigeria celebrates his victory over Rob Wilkinson of Australia in their middleweight bout during the UFC 221 event at Perth Arena on February 11, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

He then trained in Muay Thai for a year and fought his only amateur MMA fight against Neroni Savaiinaea in 2009. He lost that fight via unanimous decision.

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Training under Eugene Bareman

Adesanya didn’t lose hope after his loss and decided to grow under the tutelage of Eugene Bareman. He was present in Adesanya’s corner when he lost the match. The coach decided not to teach him if he ever came to him.

After trying hard enough to reject him, Bareman accepted Adesanya’s request and roped him under his tutelage. The coach taught him basic and advanced versions of boxing and kickboxing.

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Israel Adesanya: Reaching the top

Adesanya (20-1) applied his trade for various promotions. He was searching for a big break as he raced to an 11-0 career record between 2012 to 2017.

His hard work ultimately paid off as he was signed by UFC in early 2018. He made his debut against Rob Wilkinson and picked up the victory via an impressive TKO.

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He continued his brilliant growth as a fighter and fought for the middleweight title against Robert Whittaker at UFC 243. Adesanya captured the title after inflicting a knockout win over Whitaker. ‘The Last Stylebender’ has remained an undefeated force in the middleweight division.

At UFC 259 in March this year, he decided to become a dual division champion and fought Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title. He incurred his first professional loss as Blachowicz won via unanimous decision.

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Despite that loss, the New Zealand native boasts of a record that is pretty hard to achieve in a shark-filled cage-like UFC, and with age on his side, he is looking destined for more greatness.

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Akshyay Srichandan Mahapatra

259 articles

Akshyay Mahapatra is a UFC author for EssentiallySports. He wished to combine his passion for the UFC (that he has been following since 2008) as well as his love for writing. This motivated him to enter the world of combat sports journalism.

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