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'Not the same': Adesanya reveals differences ahead of return

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Fri, 5 Jul 2024, 5:08pm

'Not the same': Adesanya reveals differences ahead of return

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Fri, 5 Jul 2024, 5:08pm

Israel Adesanya has opened a new chapter in his mixed martial arts career. 

When he returns to the UFC octagon next month to challenge Dricus du Plessis for the middleweight title at UFC 305 in Perth, it will have been almost a year since his last fight. 

Having taken time for himself away from the sport, he returns with a new outlook - one that doesn’t involve too much thought about what comes next. 

“I’m just going to enjoy the fight that I have in front of me which is Dricus. I’m sure there will be some names that pop up afterwards and the ones that interest me I’ll take. 

“But right now, everything is focused on Dricus,” Adesanya told the Herald. 

“I’m not the same person I was last time you guys saw me in the cage, so I just want to be in the moment. When I was coming up, I was always planning shit and looking into the future, but now I’m trying to stay in the present more. That’s where I’m at in my career.” 

A return to Perth is something of a full-circle moment for the 34-year-old, who began his UFC career at RAC Arena by stopping Rob Wilkinson in the second round, before proclaiming himself as a new dog in the yard who had just marked the octagon as his territory. 

Since then, Adesanya has established his legacy as one of the best to ever do it. The only fighter to capture the middleweight title twice, his bid to claim that belt for a third time will be his 12th title fight in a row, and his 12th pay-per-view headlining spot in 17 UFC bouts. 

He returns having backed up the statement of his debut performance, but with a fresh fire after taking some time away to assess things when he lost the title to Sean Strickland in Sydney last September. 

While he returns to the octagon for a shot at the title, it’s not the belt that has him wanting to get back to work. 

Israel Adesanya will return to the octagon at UFC 305 in Perth next month. Photo / PhotosportIsrael Adesanya will return to the octagon at UFC 305 in Perth next month. Photo / Photosport 

He let du Plessis know as much when they two faced off in Perth at a media event on Wednesday and told the Herald the heated stare-down was just what he needed six weeks out from fight night. 

“He’s ready to go. He’s going to bring it, and I let him know I’m going to f***ing bring it as well because for me, it’s not about the belts and all that kind of stuff, it’s about his head. 

“So, I let him know I’m coming for his head. He felt me, I felt him and we understood what was going to happen. It was a moment that was needed,” Adesanya said. 

“I didn’t expect anything, and he pulled up on me nose-to-nose, and I stood 10 toes. 

“It really fired me up and six weeks out, it’s just what I needed to get me going.” 

That’s not to say any sort of motivation was lacking, however, as du Plessis suggested during the press conference. 

But Adesanya said if his South African counterpart wanted to think that was the case, he could go right ahead. 

“I hope he is, because he’ll be in for a rude awakening,” Adesanya said. 

“That’s a cheesy line to say, but yeah I hope he is and just thinking it’s going to be an easy walk in the park, because it’s never an easy walk in the park with me.” 

A bout between Adesanya and du Plessis has been almost a year in the works. 

The 30-year-old South African was initially offered the fight against Adesanya last September, but declined due to injury and Strickland took his place. 

With Adesanya choosing to step away from the sport after the loss to Strickland, du Plessis got his title shot against the American in January where he won a split decision. 

The UFC then put feelers out about du Plessis defending his title at UFC 300 in Las Vegas against Adesanya in April, but again du Plessis declined due to injury. 

But while it has been a long time coming, and comes off the back of one of the longest layoffs of Adesanya’s professional MMA career, the former two-time champion said, at the moment, building up to this bout had simply given him a sense of deja vu. 

“It doesn’t really feel any different or special. But the tension’s there, the heat’s there, and closer to the fight we’ll see what it brings.” 

UFC 305 

RAC Arena, Perth. Sunday, August 18. 

Fight card so far: 

Main event: Dricus du Plessis [c] v Israel Adesanya [2] for the UFC middleweight title 

Flyweight: Kai Kara-France [4] v Steve Erceg [9] 

Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa [10] v Jairzinho Rozenstruik [12] 

Flyweight: Casey O’Neill [14] v Tereza Bleda 

Heavyweight: Junior Tafa v Valter Walker 

Featherweight: Josh Culibao v Ricardo Ramos 

Featherweight: Jack Jenkins v Gavin Tucker 

Lightweight: Tom Nolan v Alex Reyes 

Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits. 

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