With many of my favorite sports shut down in 2020, the UFC became must watch TV for me. The dystopian vibes from Dana White’s Fight Island, as well as the empty UFC Apex in Las Vegas, were a perfect fit for one of the strangest years of my life, and I began to appreciate the martial arts like never before.
As I watched more UFC events, and became familiar with the storylines, Israel Adesanya, aka “The Last Style Bender,” quickly became one of my favorite fighters. The middleweight champ is one of the smartest fighter in the promotion.
Yes, it’s fun to watch brawlers like Justin Gaethje, Dustin Porier, or the Flyweight champ Brandon Moreno, but the fighters I respect most are the ones who can mount effective offense without taking excessive damage. The strategy of “give one to take one” isn’t sustainable when you’re competing with humans considered lethal weapons wearing only 4 ounce gloves.
Adesanya has mastered the art of elusive, strategic fighting.
Most impressive to me – Adesanya defined his fight with Paulo Costa, a massive man with insane power, who at the time he fought Isreal was undefeated, as a match between a bully and a “skinny kid.” As a skinny dude myself, I was almost in awe of Adesanya’s confidence, but also afraid for him. It seemed that Costa could have knocked him out with one shot, but luckily for Izzy fans, that’s not how the fight played out. Adesanya, playing the role of Matador, outsmarted Costa at every turn, ultimately knocking him out.
Similar result when Adesanya fought another raging bull contender, Marvin Vettori. Fight fans may have feared Vettori’s power and durability would threaten Adesanya (their first fight was close), but Adesanya coasted to an easy decision win so comfortably that he even pinched Vettori’s butt in the clinch later in the fight.
Adesanya’s YouTube channel breaks down past opponents and UFC events
Anyone who is an Israel Adesanya fan, or really just an MMA fan, should subscribe to his YouTube channel, FREESTYLEBENDER, which I consider a must watch. Currently based in New Zealand (although tough there are rumblings of his camp relocating to the United States), Adesanya has tons of fun with his brother, watching, and breaking down all the big UFC fights. Never one to take himself too seriously, Israel messes around quite a bit, even sipping on the occasional glass of wine, but there is a lot to learn from his fight analysis as well.
For a channel teaser, check out this FREESTYLEBENDER video where Israel breaks down a fight between two contenders he beat, Costa, and Marvin Vettori. I hope we see Adesanya in the UFC commentary booth when his fighting career comes to an end.