Israel Adesanya intends to take an extended break from MMA competition following his loss of the UFC middleweight title to Sean Strickland.
Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) has been one of the most active fighters on the roster in recent years, participating in five championship bouts within the last 20 months. Although he enjoyed frequent appearances in the octagon, he now believes it has taken a toll on him, which was evident in his shocking loss to Strickland, resulting in the surrender of his 185-pound belt at UFC 293 in September.
“Prior to this fight, I was thinking, ‘I recognize that I’m nearing the end of my career, so I want to compete as much as possible because I know I’ll miss it when it’s over,'” Adesanya shared on “The Rock” podcast. “I’m trying to maximize my opportunities. However, after this fight, I realized that 14 months and four fights take a toll not only on my fights but also on my training and overall well-being. I entered the (Alex) Pereira fight with injuries, as you may be aware. I don’t make excuses. Strickland bested me that night because he was the superior fighter. He did a great job, and he had a talented support team.
“Now, I’m going to focus on taking care of myself and refrain from fighting for an extended period of time. I won’t retire because I know myself—I’m not leaving like that. I know my capabilities and what lifestyle changes I can make to adapt my body accordingly. I’ll give myself time to heal. You won’t see me in the octagon for a while.”
Adesanya did not provide a specific timeline or potential opponents for his return. However, he believes now is the opportune moment to step away.
Following his title loss to Strickland, it was revealed that Adesanya had been charged with drink-driving just 18 days prior to UFC 293. He apologized for his irresponsible actions and pledged to strive for personal growth moving forward.
Adesanya expressed his excitement for being on the sidelines, particularly if it opens up an opportunity for his close friend Kamaru Usman to contend for the middleweight belt. Usman will face Khamzat Chimaev on 10 days’ notice as a replacement for Paulo Costa at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi next weekend. UFC CEO Dana White has stated that the winner will square off against Strickland for the belt.
Adesanya is uncertain if the UFC approached his team regarding a short-notice fight against Chimaev, but he stated that even if they had, he wouldn’t have accepted.
“I’m sure they reached out to my team, and my team probably responded, ‘He’s not fighting right now,’” Adesanya said. “’That would’ve been cool, but it’s not happening.’”
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