UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya stunned the crowd when he defeated Robert Whittaker at Melbourne’s Marvel Arena in last year’s UFC 243.
Dancing pre-fight, talking smack post, the New Zealander was loved by purist fans for his insane timing, and loathed by the bulk of the audience for beating their Aussie hero.
Your DMARGE correspondent was one of those Aussies (see: The Big Mistake I Made When Going To The UFC For The First Time). However, a few months later, Adesanya appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast where he won many people over.
Turns out he’s not as arrogant as we thought: as he told Joe, the ‘chill but flashy’ pre-fight routine (which rubbed some people the wrong way), is as much a defence mechanism for The Stylebender as Robert Whittaker’s glowing silence is for him.
Also, Adesanya’s honesty about other fighter’s skills (including Whittaker’s), as one Youtube commenter beneath the above video wrote, “outside of his feelings about them,” helped to win people over, as did his attitude towards his new title belt: “When I get back, I don’t even look at this thing.”
He works hard and he knows: when you’re at the top, everyone is coming for you. And to stay there you need a winning mindset.
The champ’s Instagram is consistent with this philosophy: playful, insightful and – somehow – still humble. And it’s clearly resonating with people: you don’t amass 2.4 million followers with fight IQ alone.
On that note, Adesanya recently shared his take on the current COVID 19 lockdown, revealing how a winners mindset is both brutally honest but also positive: “I’ll keep this short and sweet. This next four weeks is going to make and break some people.”
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“Some people are going to come out of this with drinking problems, drug problems, domestics, broken families… or some people going to come out of this with better relationships settling old beef with family and friends, cooking skills, better brains, healthier bodies.”
“I’m not your fucking guru, I’m not nobody, but yeah I’m the UFC champion and people carry some weight sometimes with what I say. But yeah, stay strong ‘cos only the strong are going to survive this shit.”
Though there were some light-hearted jabs in the comments (“SMH I already had a drug problem nice try buddy”) there was also a lot of agreement and appreciation (“This actually made me quit smoking pot and drinking”).
Whatever the case, it’s refreshing to see some honesty, and to see someone famous acknowledge they’re just another person and give their unfiltered two cents, rather than pretending to be anything other than they are.
As Adesanya captions the video: “Kindness is strength, community is strength, calmness is strength.” We can’t think of a better note to end on than that.