Watch Israel Adesanya’s moving historic Halberg Awards Sportsman of the Year acceptance speech.
It’s been quite a run for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Now, the new champion is accepting more gold, this time in the form of the Halberg Awards Sportsman of the Year. Watch as Adesanya accepts the award, the first time a combat sports athlete has been given the award.
His moving speech pointed out combat sports athletes throughout the years.
“It’s the first time combat athletes have been nominated so you know I have to do this for the old, the combat athletes of old, you know, rest in peace Jimmy Thunder,” Adesanya said.
“See Kiwi’s we love a good one out you know I mean we love a good fight this is part of the culture,” he continued. “Straight up. I mean we’re a country of a warrior race the Modi. This is part of our culture. If a fight broke out right now what will you all do? You ignore me and watch the fight, it’s in our DNA. And we’ve been doing this for so long you guys have no idea. Welcome to the party we’ve been doing this for so long, like I said, way back when we wearing New Zealand on our back all over the world. We did it twice last year in Australia UFC 234 and UFC 243.”
The award, which honors the best of the best in New Zealand sports has never awarded the Sportsman of the Year to any combat sports athlete in its 57-year history. Adesanya was nominated alongside Scott McLaughlin (motorsport), Tom Walsh (athletics) and Kane Williamson (cricket) and accepted the award in a ceremony on Wednesday.
Adesanya will defend his title in March when he takes on Yoel Romero at UFC 248. This will be the first official title defense for Adesanya who defeated the undisputed champion, Robert Whittaker, to become the new champ. He previously held the interim title when he defeated Kelvin Gastelum.
UFC 248 takes place on Saturday, March 7, 2020, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided MMA, who will be on site, all your live results and highlights.