‘I’m not going to fight for a long time,’ says UFC’s Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya‘s UFC career is seemingly on hold.

The former UFC middleweight champion doesn’t plan to fight for a “long time,” he said Thursday on New Zealand’s “The Rock” radio show. Adesanya is coming off an upset loss last month to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in Australia. Strickland beat Adesanya for the middleweight title via one-sided unanimous decision as a +500 underdog.

“I never make excuses, I gave him props, but now I’m going to take time to look after myself and I’m not going to fight for a long time,” Adesanya said.

Adesanya, 34, said he is not retiring, but will be healing his body. The two-time former champ fought four title fights in 14 months, a clip that’s almost unheard of for a champion in today’s UFC.

“I know me, I’m not leaving for that,” Adesanya said. “I know me, but if I did, I’m fine. I don’t need to prove anything else. But I know what I can do, and I know what I can change in my lifestyle to make my body adapt to where I need it to be.”

“The Last Style Bender” has fought nine times since March 2020, all title bouts, including a knockout loss to Alex Pereira last November. Adesanya won the rematch in April, but said he was injured going into that one.

Adesanya (24-3) is considered one of the best middleweight fighters in MMA history. The Nigerian-born fighter, who grew up in New Zealand, had five successful title defenses at 185 pounds and has become one of the UFC’s most popular stars over the past several years.

UFC president Dana White has said the promotion would plan for an immediate rematch between Adesanya and Strickland, but now that seems unlikely. Khamzat Chimaev will face former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 next week in Abu Dhabi and the winner of that fight will more than likely be Strickland’s first title defense.

“I’m just going to take my time and heal and then when I come back, f—ing run for the hills,” Adesanya said.

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