At UFC 248, Middleweight Champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya will attempt to make his first title defense when he takes on Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero. If the champ gets his hand raised, he will remain on track for potential superfights that he aspires to compete in. These could see him go up a weight class, or even two.
The Last Stylebender has spoken about moving up to light heavyweight many times, but it also appears that he would be willing to go heavier.
In an interview with Submission Radio, Adesanya’s head coach Eugene Bareman revealed that there are big plans for The Last Stylebender. The City Kickboxing coach said, “Fighting at heavyweight is not a problem for Israel. He’s not going to weigh heavyweight. That wouldn’t be where our advantage is. He would never weigh what a heavyweight would. [He would] fight [at his] walk-around weight, which is like barely past [the] middleweight [limit].”
UFC 248 takes place March 7 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
Bareman also said, “Israel stated [it], and I think it’s a very good plan. He’s going to do his thing in the middleweight division, [there are] some really tough challenges. You should clear those out. There’s at least three or four more good challenges.” The coach believes that Adesanya can clear out middleweight within a year, and he said, “After that, what’s the next challenge? It’s to move up in weight.”
There are two men that Adesanya is eyeing. The Last Stylebender has been very vocal about fighting UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones and has had a back-and-forth verbal war with Jones for months. But, Adesanya isn’t just looking at Bones, he also has aspirations of fighting UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic.
It’s always risky for a fighter to move up a weight class and try their hand at heavier opposition, and even more so when it’s two weight classes. But The Last Stylebender is a man of strong self-belief and impressive skill. Here is a look at the two potential superfights:
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Adesanya vs. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones
The superfight that The Last Stylebender is linked to most often is Bones. Both men are polarizing figures in the sport, and two of the very best fighters on the planet. This is also the fight that Adesanya has actively vocalized most often.
The Last Stylebender has told the media that he wants to fight Jones in 2021 and dethrone the longtime king of light heavyweight. There have also been talks of the two fighting at heavyweight, but presumably the two would be matched at 205 pounds.
Both men have spoken a lot about each other in interviews. But it appears that The Last Stylebender’s hunt for Jones may not be reciprocated. Bones has said that he doesn’t need to fight Adesanya to establish his legacy anymore. He has also vowed to not answer The Last Stylebender on Twitter anymore.
They have exchanged jabs back and forth on Twitter. Here is an example:
Adesanya’s been vocal about wanting more experience in the Octagon before he fights Jones, and that’s why he’s calling for a bout with the light heavyweight champ in 2021. In January, Adesanya went on a NSFW rant about Bones in an interview with Ariel Hewlani. During the interview, he said, “eventually [Jones and I] will see each other at some point, and he’s gonna have to see me, like everyone else does.”
How These Two Champions Match Up
The light heavyweight champion seemingly has the size advantage as The Last Stylebender competes at 185 pounds and Bones competes at 205 pounds. Jones also has the reach advantage, like he always does. However, it’s not as significant as he’s had over many light heavyweights. Bones’ reach is 84 inches, whereas Adesanya’s is 80 inches.
Both men stand at 6-foot-4-inches. They are only two years apart, with The Last Stylebender the younger man at 30 and Jones at 32.
From an Octagon experience standpoint, few men are more of a UFC veteran than the #1 pound-for-pound fighter, Jones. He has been fighting in the promotion for over a decade, and has a UFC record of 20-1 and one no-contest. His single loss came via disqualification in a fight that he was dominating.
Adesanya has only been in the UFC for two years, and the middleweight champ has garnered a 7-0 record in the promotion.
The Last Stylebender vs. UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic
The Last Stylebender wants to go big game hunting, and arguably the biggest game out there is UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic. Miocic resides two weight classes above the middleweight champion, but that doesn’t deter Adesanya.
In the Submission Radio interview mentioned earlier, Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman said, “Trust me. If [Adesanya] has his three or four more middleweight fights, we will push to fight Stipe [Miocic]. 100 percent, that’s the fight. I was half joking to get the attention off of all this Jon Jones stuff. But I’m making a serious claim here.”
Bareman said, “[If he] can get the business done at middleweight and if [he’s] successful, then he will definitely like to move up and challenge Stipe. That’s a serious thing.”
How These Two Champions Stack Up
Taking Miocic on is a tall order for anyone in the world, especially when fighting two classes below heavyweight. In the interview with Submission Radio, Adesanya’s head coach said he would fight at his walk-around weight, which is just past the middleweight 185-pound limit.
For Adesanya to fight at heavyweight, he would have to weigh the divisional minimum limit of at least 205-pounds. Miocic typically fights around 230-240 pounds and would have a massive weight advantage on Adesanya.
The Last Stylebender does match Miocic in reach, with both clocking in at 80 inches, and each man stands at 6-foot-4-inches. Miocic fights in an orthodox stance, while Adesanya has a dynamic stance and switches sides regularly.
The 30-year-old middleweight champ would have an age advantage over Miocic, as the heavyweight king is nearly seven years his elder at 37. In terms of Octagon experience, Miocic has the advantage. He has been on the UFC roster since 2011 and has earned himself a promotional record of 13-3.
The Last Stylebender Has a Huge Task in Front of Him on March 7
Fighting Miocic or Jones would be a massive undertaking for The Last Stylebender. And the middleweight champion has an important match on March 7 against Yoel Romero, a fight that could derail talks of a superfight with either Miocic or Jones.
In the main event of UFC 248, Adesanya will take on Yoel Romero, who is an Olympic silver medalist with devastating knockout power and athleticism.