UFC Champ Israel Adesanya Considering Unexpected Move Up to Heavyweight

UFC, Israel Adesanya

Getty Israel Adesanya speaks with Joe Rogan during the UFC 276 ceremonial weigh-in.

UFC superstar Israel Adesanya is considering a move back up to light heavyweight and even the heavyweight division.

The reigning UFC middleweight champion Adesanya has established himself as one of the most dominant forces in the division’s history. Adesanya has lapped past the competition, beating multiple top-ranked contenders twice. He has gone undefeated in his professional career at 185-pounds, with a single loss coming against former champion Jan Blachowicz in a light heavyweight contest under the UFC banner.

Adesanya is set to settle his longstanding rivalry with Alex Pereira on Nov. 12 in the headlining bout of UFC 281, the company’s long-awaited return to Madison Square Garden in New York. Pereira already holds two wins over “The Last Stylebender,” including a brutal knockout that had Adesanya out cold on the canvas in a kickboxing match.

Ahead of the upcoming title defense, Paradigm Sports’ vice president for MMA and Adesanya’s manager Tim Simpson indicated that his client might change divisions in the near future but will look to avenge his losses against Pereira at middleweight before anything else.

“He’s mentioned he wants to go back up to 205,” Simpson said via MMA Junkie. “Obviously, the last time he came up short. But I think he would be very comfortable in that division again if that’s what he wants to do. It’s really up to him and Eugene (Bareman) on the athletic side. But I think he has business he wants to attend to at 185 first. He says he wants to fight everybody of his era in that weight class, which he almost has done.”

Adesanya went up to light heavyweight in an unsuccessful bid against Blachowicz at UFC 259 in Mar. 2021. Simpson shared that he could even move up two divisions to compete at heavyweight.

“He wants to go down as the greatest of all time in that division, and there’s opportunity to stay there and keep fighting. But the door’s open to light heavyweight, even heavyweight. He’s had success at heavyweight in kickboxing, too.”


Simpson Believes Adesanya Moved On From the Losses

When Pereira made his way into the UFC, fans got excited at the idea of seeing a grudge match between Adesanya and him. The promotion took notice of the interest regarding the potential showdown and fast-tracked Pereira’s way to a title shot.

Having already lost twice to Pereira, the third outing in another sport could weigh heavy on Adesanya’s mind. However, Simpson believes that Adesanya made peace with the past results and is not affected by them.

“I believe him when he said he made peace with what happened,” Simpson said. “It’s easy to be frustrated with the way the second one ended. When you watch the first fight, he won the first fight. It was a terrible decision. He won that fight the first time. Then the second one, he won Round 1, a 10-8 in Round 2, he was winning Round 3 and got caught – fair play to Alex.

“I think in his heart, it’s not like, ‘That guy’s better than me.’ He did lose both fights, but I don’t feel there’s a chip on his shoulder about this guy. He wants to settle it, certainly shut some mouths, but it’s not something that’s been eating at him for years, like, ‘I’ve got to get Pereira back.’ He was happy never fighting Pereira.”


Simpson Revealed Two Opponents Adesanya Is Looking To Fight if He Beats Pereira

If Adesanya manages to record another successful title defense to his glittering resume, he has his eyes set on fighting Sean Strickland and Jack Hermansson.

“Obviously, the Pereira fight is meaningful for the backstory they had in another sport, and there’s another few guys who have been real mainstays at middleweight that he wants on his resume, as well,” Simpson said. “I know he wants to make that Strickland fight. I know he wants to fight Jack Hermansson, who has been a perennial top-five guy for the past five years. There’s other names at middleweight.”

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