Israel Adesanya Uses NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal’s Example to Highlight the Changing of the Guard in UFC

Published 03/05/2022, 5:25 AM EST
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 09: NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille’s At L.A. Live at LA Live on March 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Fans who have followed UFC from the start would know how much the promotion has grown. In a recent interview, UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, said just that. In a conversation with ‘TMZ Sports’, the fighter spoke about the Colby Covington versus Jorge Masvidal fight. He also discussed the hype and spotlight the sport enjoys.

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According to him, media attention and hype have always been a part of the sport. He explained his point with an example of fights that take place in schools.

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Speaking about how much the sport has expanded, Adesanya said, “This is just part of, it’s part of culture… and you know it’s huge when at the fights, you have big names just sitting there ringside. People you wouldn’t expect.”

“And you’re just like ‘huh, this is where we’re at now’. And it wasn’t like back in the day. You only had like Shaq in the crowd. He’s a diehard fan. But now, it’s like, you have people who feel like ‘you watch MMA?’.”

The host added, “It’s like you go there to be seen” and ‘Izzy‘ agreed with him. ‘The Last Stylebender’ further compared this situation with boxing. He feels like the big UFC events have almost become like a ‘social event’. However, the UFC middleweight champion also said that he does not feel star-struck when big names attend events.

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UFC 272: Will Colby Covington Versus Jorge Masvidal Be for the BMF Belt?

7 months ago

What’s next for Israel Adesanya?

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Adesanya became the interim UFC middleweight champion in 2019 after defeating Kelvin Gastelum. He then successfully unified his title to become the undisputed champion by defeating Robert Whittaker at UFC 243.

As of March 2022, he successfully defended his title four times. This included twice against Robert Whittaker. He has also fought some of the highest-ranking fighters from the division. Hence, it is natural for him to fight Jared Cannonier.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 12: Robert Whittaker (L) of Australia grapples with Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their middleweight championship fight during UFC 271 at Toyota Center on February 12, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Cannonier had a spectacular win against Derek Brunson at UFC 271. So it looks like his time for the title shot has now come. The champion himself has said that Cannonier is next in line. So seeing him try to snatch the title would be an interesting fight. Do you think it is a good matchup? Let us know in the comments below.

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Watch this story: Colby Covington’s Intense Training Routine for His Grudge Match Against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 272

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Rohini Kottu

826 articles

Rohini Kottu is a UFC Writer at EssentiallySports. She is also a Psychologist and has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Rohini, in her role as a UFC writer, combines her admiration for the mental resilience that MMA fighters have and her love for analysis.

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