Rising UFC middleweight contender Israel Adesanya will have a massive opportunity to further propel his name into superstardom when he takes on mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Anderson Silva at UFC 234 this February.
Adesanya, who often draws comparisons to Silva and former UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones, is coming off a big knockout win over veteran Derek Brunson back at UFC 230. It was a coming out party of sorts and a memorable finish that allowed “Last Stylebender” to lock down a fight opposite his hero.
While Silva is still a competent contender, Adesanya has encountered some criticism for taking a fight against a 43-year-old legend who has competed just once in well over two years. Adesanya understands his current position, but wants to reassure fight fans that Silva is no Chuck Liddell, who recently came out of an eight-year retirement to get knocked out by Tito Ortiz in a massively disappointing trilogy fight.
“People who aren’t in my shoes (don’t understand),” Adesanya said in a recent interview with Submission Radio (shown above). “Look, he’s not Chuck Liddell. Don’t get me wrong, because of that being so recent people were like, ‘oh, how dare you, he’s 43’. Look, last time he was finished was when he broke his leg. He hasn’t been losing badly. He beat Derek Brunson. That was a close fight, I guess, but yeah, I think he’s just been bored.”
Silva, who hasn’t finished a fight since ending Stephan Bonnar via first-round TKO back at UFC 153 over six years ago, is widely considered one of the best fighters to ever do it. His performances of late haven’t been overly spectacular, but the Brazilian veteran still possesses enough skill to test almost any fighter in the middleweight top 10.
All of that said, Adesanya would be stupid not to jump at the opportunity to fight one of the best of all time. Silva may have initially declined the bout, but a guaranteed title shot by UFC president Dana White was all “Spider” needed to ready himself for a battle with the 29-year-old Adesanya.
“Initially I was disappointed (because he turned the fight down),” Adesanya said. “I was like, man, this is a guy who liked the big challenges, the great show. As he used to say, ‘I want great show,’ you know. And then he said no to me. I said, man, maybe he doesn’t have it anymore. And then he came back last Sunday, yup, I wanna do it. I’m like, they must have made him an offer he can’t refuse, and instantly I knew it was like, title shot. I was like, alright then. But I like to think it’s me.
“I feel like I’m the guy. Cause, you know, he said one time to Joe Rogan, ‘I want to fight my clone,’ and I’m better than his clone. I’ve studied everything he’s done, every single thing. I know some of him better than he knows himself, whether he likes to believe it or not, cause I’m on the outside looking in. And yeah, I just want to believe, I want to be the guy that brings the best out of him. You’re gonna see a different Anderson, Anderson of old, if you will. Anderson that teeped Vitor Belfort in the face and had me run to my room all, ‘ahhhhh, what the f*ck’. Yeah, I want to bring that guy back. So yeah, he back.”
If Adesanya is able to dominate Silva like he has dominated the majority of his opponents to date then there is no denying “Last Stylebender” his own shot at UFC gold. At the end of the day, not too many fighters have finished Silva inside of the cage.
“I’m gonna steal the show,” Adesanya concluded. “Look, this is the greatest middleweight of all time… and Anderson Silva going at it. What more could you want?”
UFC 234 takes place on Feb. 9 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, and features a middleweight main event title fight between current champion Robert Whittaker and former Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum.
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