UFC Superstar Aims to Become 2-Division Champ in 2021

UFC Belt

Kelsey McCarson

Current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya wants to fight for the light heavyweight championship in 2021 and become a two-division champion, according to his head coach, Eugene Bareman.

During a recent interview with 1 News, Bareman, who runs City Kickboxing in New Zealand, said that “The Last Stylebender” will not be returning to the Octagon until 2021 and in his return, wants to challenge light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz for the title instead of defending his middleweight belt against the winner of UFC 254’s Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier.

After defeating Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September, Adesanya said that he was interested in defending his belt against Cannonier in December.

But, according to Bareman, Adesanya is electing to not compete in 2020 again as he wants to help prepare his teammate, Junior Fa, for a boxing match against Joseph Parker on December 11. Furthermore, Adesanya’s coaches will be busy training Fa as well.

“Me and Tristram [Apikota] – who are integral parts of Israel’s coaching team, we’ve been there for every fight – have committed ourselves to Junior,” Bareman said via 1 News.

“And fair enough, it’s Junior’s time in the limelight now,” he continued.

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Adesanya Doesn’t Have an Issue With Taking a Backseat at City Kickboxing for the Rest of 2020 to Help Fa

Since his coaches will be busy, and City Kickboxing is a very team-oriented gym, The Last Stylebender will be shelved until next year, Bareman said.

“Although Israel wanted to fight in December, he does not want to fight without his coaching team so he’s going to have to push his timetable out to fight in early next year,” Bareman told the outlet.

Adesanya does not have an issue taking a backseat for the rest of the year at City Kickboxing, Bareman said. The City Kickboxing head coach said:

We’re a team – if you have to move because another fighter is in the limelight, then Israel is more than happy to move aside so Junior can get his fight done. That’s just how you operate as a team. Without hesitation, Israel is like, ‘yes, there’s big money involved but there’s big money involved for Junior as well. This is the biggest pay day, it’s the biggest fight of Junior’s life’.

Bareman said that Fa has helped Adesanya throughout the UFC champ’s career and Adesanya has no issue stepping aside.

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The Cannonier Fight Has Been ‘Taken Off the Table,’ Adesanya Eyes Blachowicz

With Adesanya delaying his return to the Octagon, he wants a major fight when he comes back: a match with Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title.

“Cannonier was the option for this year but we’ve taken that option off the table,” Bareman told 1 News. “Now we want to fight next year and our preferred fight next year is at [light heavyweight].”

He continued, “If we have to push it to next year, then our preferred option, the fight that we are going to try and negotiate to the best of our ability is going to be at 205 [pounds] for the title.”

Although it is unconfirmed if the UFC would entertain a champion vs. champion title fight with Adesanya and Blachowicz, Bareman said that it’s “our job though – to try and push that narrative as far as we can.”

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