UFC President Dana White has heaped praise on Israel Adesanya after his first-round knockout victory over Derek Brunson at Madison Square Garden on the weekend.
“I literally cannot sit here and tell you enough good things about this kid,” White said in the post-fight press conference.
The Nigerian born Kiwi has had a prolific start to his UFC career since making his debut in February of this year.
With four straight wins inside the octagon in the space of 10 months, White believes the first-round stoppage of the number-6 ranked Brunson has proven beyond doubt that Adesanya is a true contender in the middleweight division
“Israel has been a guy who has been on the rise here for a minute, but I really felt like tonight was his first big test,” White said.
“His opponent hits like a truck and wrestles really well, and Madison Square Garden, opening the show, man, did he deliver.
Many people, including me, think this kid is the future, and he went out and put a stamp on it tonight.”
After constant attempts from Brunson to take the fight to the floor, Adesanya landed a perfectly placed knee to the jaw of Brunson as he attempted another takedown.
From there, Adesanya showcased his pin point accuracy and eerie composure as he picked his shots and put Brunson away with only 9 seconds remaining in the first round.
“He came out tonight and put the stamp on it,” White said.
“He came out and really looked good tonight. If you look at how good he’s looked in his other fights, he didn’t even finish. He finished Derek Brunson tonight. It’s a big deal.”
The Stylebender picked up $50,000 with a performance of the night bonus with the win and has indicated that a fight with current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is in his plans for 2019.
With Whittaker scheduled to defend the title against Kelvin Gastelum in Melbourne in February, Adesanya has indicated that he could be a potential back up should somebody get injured, but White suggests a slower approach should be taken.
“He is very ambitious, I would like him to pump the brakes a little bit,” White said.
“This guy wants to fucking fight everybody right now and he wants to fight every month, which I love.”
“I like him very, very much and I don’t want to move him as fast as he wants to be moved, so he and I will get together and find a happy medium.”
My earliest combat sports memory is watching David Tua knock people out with his left hook. I am extremely passionate about combat sports in Australia and my home country of New Zealand and I endeavour to grow the profile of martial arts and its athletes in both countries. Persistent Brazilian jiu-jitsu battler.