UFC

Israel Adesanya was booted from martial arts: ‘I was kicking everything in the house’

Israel Adesanya’s mom once pulled him of taekwondo for being too rowdy, good thing it wasn’t a permanent ban.

Israel Adesanya’s parents are massive UFC fans these days, but Adesanya’s future could have taken a very different turn after he was pulled out of taekwondo at age 8. Adesanya exclusively spoke with FanSided about the incident, his fight vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 234, his championship potential, Dan Hooker’s health, anime, Fortnite, and much more.

Fansided: Why did your mom pull you out of taekwondo at age 8? Do you laugh thinking back on it, considering how far you’ve come as a fighter?

Israel Adesanya: I was kicking everything in the house and one time I did a stupid backflip off the couch and broke my arm. I got into a lot of trouble for that… My parents are the biggest UFC fans now. They watch every single UFC card even if I’m not on it. They’re happy with what I’m doing. I don’t have to rub it in their face but they know what’s up.

Fansided: In the talent-rich middleweight division, why is it Israel Adesanya will not only become champion but remain champion for the foreseeable future? 

Israel Adesanya: Look at a guy like me and look at everyone else in the division. Who else is fighting like me?… I had my first fight Feb. 10 last year, so I’ll be having my fifth fight in one year [at UFC 234]. I’m not getting injured, I’m not getting hurt. I’m fighting smart and finishing guys. My track record beyond the UFC speaks for itself. Outside of the UFC, in 2016 I fought more than 20 times. That speaks for itself.”

Fansided: In Anderson Silva, you face one of the most decorated fighters of all-time. Do you expect to be challenged in ways you haven’t before in MMA?

Israel Adesanya: “I expect him to show me some things… I expect the unexpected. I think you can teach an old dog new tricks. Especially someone like him.”

Fansided: I believe a fighter can often learn more from a defeat than by going undefeated their entire career. What happens if you lose to Anderson Silva? What sort of Israel Adesanya do we see next time? 

Israel Adesanya: That’s a new question. Let me think. No one has asked me that… I’ve accepted every single aspect of this fight… but it always comes back to me winning this fight the way I want to win this fight. I can’t really see myself losing this fight, but if I lose this fight, I don’t know. I’ll just whoop the next guy. In my career before the UFC, every time I lost I knocked out the next guy I fought.

Fansided: How is Dan Hooker doing following his TKO loss to Edson Barboza?

Israel Adesanya: He’s gravy. He’s learnt from it and he’s back in training now doing his thing… He is running his own gym as well, The Combat Academy, which is thriving. He’s putting a lot of work into that. He just had a baby, his first child, so he’s putting a lot of work into his family. This will give him a chance to rest because the guy doesn’t know how to rest. Now he is forced to.

Fansided: I remember getting picked on for my anime outbursts as a kid. You’re out here dropping Genjutsu (Naruto) references like no one’s business. When did anime become cool? 

Israel Adesanya: I say and express myself to the most authentic of my ability. Anime is a part of my life and it really inspired my fighting style. I’m just doing me and if people think that’s cool now, cool. Kids like us used to get picked on for running around like ninjas through the playground… but now everybody wants to be like ‘that’s cool, I watch Dragon Ball Z too.’ Yeah, yeah, alright… Express yourself authentically and those who f**k with you will f**k with you.

Fansided: You obviously love to dance, you’re a Fortnite enthusiast, and you keep up with hip-hop. Artists are suing Fortnite for allegedly stealing their dance moves. Rapper 2 Milly (The Milly Rock) and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor Alfonso Ribeirao (The Carlton Dance) for example. Can an artist own a dance move?

I think so. Soulja Boy came out with the [“Crank That” in 2007]. If Fortnite [was around back then] and took that and put it in the game, they definitely would [have] been sued. 100 percent sue. Because they are benefitting off the culture and not giving back to the culture and not even paying the artist they took it from… That’s property. Physical intellectual property… If they want to put [my post-fight dance] sequence in Fortnite they better hit me up, they better cut that check.”

UFC 234 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Follow along with FanSided MMA for all your live results and highlights throughout the night.