LAS VEGAS – Israel Adesanya admits Saturday wasn’t the best performance of his career.
At UFC 276, Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) defeated Jared Cannonier (15-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC) by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) to successfully defend the promotion’s middleweight title for the fifth time.
Despite a largely dominant performance, the lack of action drew criticism from both booing fans in the arena and commenters online. Initially disappointed, Adesanya mentally framed the performance differently and was more comfortable with it shortly after the main event’s conclusion.
“(I feel) a lot better,” Adesanya told reporters including MMA Junkie. “I’ve said this before in the past: On my worst day, I can kill the best man. I call that suicide, on my worst day. I had an off night tonight. (Coach) Eugene (Bareman) told me, ‘The people who really know you, (your) teammates, (your) family, they know you had an off night.’ And still, I still f*cked him up.”
It takes two to tango and Adesanya faulted and credited both himself and Cannonier for the lack of exchanges. Adesanya has long thought Cannonier is a top-tier fighter, a hypothesis proven in his eyes at UFC 276.
“I couldn’t find my power shots, my kicks,” Adesanya said. “The initiators – the jabs and leg kicks – were working, but I was trying to find the power shots. He was adjusting well. It wasn’t just me vs. him. … His adjustments to what I was doing, I’d go ahead, I got to his body, I got to his legs. I got to his legs and he’d adjust and get away from my power. I was able to get away from his, as well.”
As for the boos, Adesanya said he wasn’t fazed by them. He pointed out many all-time great combat sports athletes have been booed, jeered, insulted and criticized by crowds over the spans of their careers. He’s no different.
“F*ck them,” Adesanysa said. “Nah, they’ve been here since 3 p.m. They’re all drunk. They don’t know what real fighting is. I’ve said this: The greats, they all get to this point. I’ve seen it when I was just a fan. I’m still a fan. Anderson Silva, (Georges St-Pierre), I remember fights where I’d be like, ‘That was a f*cking fantastic fight,’ and the same thing. People would just boo them. GSP, one of the f*cking GOATs, and people would just boo him. I’m like, ‘What the f*ck are you guys watching? You dumb f*cks.’
“(Muhammad) Ali, Floyd Mayweather, it’s the same thing. You’re so great, people just want to see you fall. They just want to see you fall no matter what. If it’s not a show-out, spectacular performance, it’s like, ‘Ah, he’s not even that good.’ Jared knows I’m a good fighter. He knows I’m a great fighter, and I gave him the same credit, as well.”