Following Adesanya’s unanimous decision victory over Jared Cannonier at UFC 276, former two-weight UFC champion Henry Cejudo criticized the performance and suggested the promotion should stop “pushing” the 32-year-old.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Sonnen not only dismissed Cejudo’s comments but also questioned the idea of whether or not the UFC are pushing Adesanya at all.
“The whole thing is throwing me off,” Sonnen said. “Henry Cejudo does know a thing or two about a push. And he knows a thing or two about how to go out there and get the push. However, just the premise on itself makes it sound as though the UFC is elevating and rising Adesanya. As though the master marketing machine of UFC has created this.”
“Adesanya Got An Opportunity”
Despite arguments that his last few title defenses have been “boring,” Adesanya remains one of the UFC’s most recognizable stars.
“The Last Stylebender” put together an 8-0 MMA record while still primarily focused on his kickboxing career. Once he fully committed to MMA, it only took a couple more wins to attract the attention of the UFC and set up Adesanya’s promotional debut in 2018.
The 32-year-old’s road to stardom has been one of the more rapid rises in recent MMA history, but Sonnen doesn’t believe that should be attributed to the UFC’s efforts to market him.
“Israel Adesanya has not been pushed. No, he has not guys. Israel Adesanya got here the same way a lot of guys did… Israel works his way up the card. Before you know it, he’s at Madison Square Garden, but he’s the third one from the end. He’s not the one everybody came to see. But on the way in he did something interesting.
“During the fight, it was something dynamic. On his way out the door, he’s gonna leave you something to remember him. Now if somebody had handed him those, had sat down with him, had taught him, had shown him, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re going to do,’ I could say he got a push, but he did not. Israel Adesanya got an opportunity, and then he took it.”
After joining the UFC, “The Last Stylebender” quickly brought his record to 16-0 before knocking out Robert Whittaker in 2019 to become the UFC’s middleweight champion. A failed bid to claim Jan Blachowicz’s light heavyweight title in 2021 stands as his only MMA loss, and Adesanya has now successfully defended the middleweight belt five times.
What do you think of Sonnen’s explanation as to why Cejudo’s criticisms of Adesanya are invalid?