History Behind Israel Adesanya’s Nickname ‘The Last Stylebender’ and ‘The Black Dragon’: Which Anime Is the Inspiration Behind the UFC Champ’s Moniker?

Published 09/09/2023, 9:28 AM EDT

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Israel Adesanya is one of the greatest fighters on the UFC roster. Adesanya made a big name for himself when he became the UFC middleweight champion for the second time. Before stepping foot into the UFC, the Nigerian-born fighter was a kickboxer and also a title challenger at the Glory Middleweight Championship. Currently, the 34-year-old is getting ready to defend his title against Sean Strickland at UFC 293. Many strongly believe that Adesanya is going to win the bout as he has achieved splendid victories in the past. ‘Izzy’ rose to the top of the UFC middleweight division for the second time after defeating his arch-rival Alex Pereira at UFC 287.

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He is one of the most popular fighters in the promotion and always makes sure that he grabs the attention of fans all over the world with his carefree attitude and extraordinary strikes. Adesanya effortlessly turned a lot of eyes towards him with his outgoing nature. His love for anime is one of the unique factors of the fighter that almost all of his fans know. The middleweight champion also has three nicknames. All these monikers are closely associated with Adesanya’s past and his love for anime.

The story behind the most popular nickname of Israel Adesanya ‘The Last Stylebender’ 

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Israel Adesanya has captured the attention of millions with his impressive fighting skills and his love of anime. The middleweight champ has tattoos of his favorite anime characters on his body. On top of that, Adesanya has been known to incorporate classic anime moments into his bouts. He has himself confessed that he is obsessed with Japanese anime. According to the UFC star, anime has helped him develop his fighting style and boost his mental health to a great degree. He is an inspiration to those who love watching anime and follow MMA.

via Imago

Adesanya makes sure that he spends his free time watching his favorite anime, such as ‘Naruto’ and ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. On several occasions, the middleweight kingpin has proven that he is obsessed with anything related to anime. Adesanya has been addicted to it ever since he was a child. Even when he reached the world’s biggest MMA promotion, the Nigerian-born fighter was not ready to give up on his love for the cartoon medium.

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Adesanya has already confessed that he is a weaboo, and he himself coined the nickname ‘The Last Stylebender’ to show his passion for anime. ‘Izzy’ once said, “I coined that name from the TV series The Avatar. I just related so much to the message and the characters in the show.He believed that anime had helped him to have the right mindset and guided him to achieve great success in the realm of MMA. And because of the same reason, he chose a nickname related to it.

‘The Last Stylebender’ to ‘Stylebender’

Adesanya’s nickname, ‘The Last Stylebender, became so popular that, out of love, some shortened it to ‘Stylebender.’ Adesanya was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and later moved to New Zealand when he was 10 years old. His parents wanted their kids to have great opportunities in the new country. When the middleweight star reached high school, he developed a passion for Japanese anime and manga. Back then, he was not someone who passionately followed sports.

via Imago

During his school years, Adesanya found himself a misfit among the other students. This sense of alienation and the bullying that he faced led him to the world of mixed martial arts. Eventually, MMA and anime became his greatest friends. And according to Adesanya, his moniker ‘Stylebender’ is a blend of both these worlds, which means everything to him.

A name from the past; The Black Dragon

Before becoming ‘The Last Stylebender’, Israel Adesanya was ‘The Black Dragon’ in China. Adesanya has already earned a big name for himself in the world’s biggest MMA promotion. Before stepping into the world of the UFC, the Nigerian fighter was a kickboxer in the regional scene of China.

When ‘Izzy’ was an upcoming combat sports athlete, he went to China in search of greener pastures. However, he faced a terrible time there as the promotions in China treated him like a journeyman for the native fighters to beat up. They also wanted to use Adesanya to boost the image of the Chinese fighters.

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With time, those people realized that Adesanya is not someone who can be defeated easily. The UFC star overcame every single obstacle and won numerous fights in China. Later, he was also able to adapt to the culture of the place. Moreover, the 34-year-old also started to speak Chinese. The people from there were highly impressed with the fighting prowess and durability of Adesanya. Slowly, they began to consider him as one among them. As a token of respect to the great fighter, they began to call him ‘The Black Dragon.’ At present, the middleweight kingpin remembers his kickboxing days in China with pride. Now, the MMA community is eagerly waiting to witness Adesanya’s journey in the UFC as the two-time middleweight champion.

Watch this Story–Israel Adesanya Ranks Himself Above Michael Jordan in Pettiness

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Written by:

Priyanka

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Priyanka is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. Her passion for the UFC is evident in her writing, and she has been a devoted fan of the sport for many years. Priyanka is particularly fascinated by the sportsmanship displayed by fighters, and she is captivated by their ability to calculate each move when an opponent is all set to attack.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Das

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