Israel Adesanya: ‘You won’t catch me on TMZ doing something crazy because I have the right people around me’


Israel Adesanya is understandably proud of all he’s accomplished since first arriving in the UFC but perhaps his greatest achievement is that he’s never let any of it change him or how he’s approaching his future in the sport.

Since becoming UFC middleweight champion, the 32-year-old Nigerian-born fighter has rocketed into superstardom and the fruits of his labor paid off in many ways after he inked a lucrative new contract just days ahead of his next fight that his management team said will make him one of the highest paid athletes in the history of the sport.

While Adesanya appreciates the UFC’s huge financial investment in his career, he doesn’t celebrate the fact that it means that hard work has just begun.

“It hasn’t hit me yet to be honest,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting. It’s huge. It’s a big deal because of [my coach] Eugene [Bareman], [my manager] Timothy [Simpson]. Even my father has congratulated me many times.

” We had our moments, but I haven’t felt it. While I do this to make money, the truth is that it’s more than just money. Although it is about taking names and kicking people, it’s also a great deal that I am happy with. I am not finished

While it is almost normal for someone to become almost indistinguishable from their former self, Adesanya assures that he will not let this happen.

It’s clear that he loves the finer things of life. His UFC career has given him financial security that is second to none. However, he knows that fame and fortune are both blessings and curses.

Adesanya is a man who has heard so many warning tales about high-profile athletes, that he will not allow his own mistakes to happen.

Perhaps even more important is the support of those around Adesanya who, he said, keep him accountable for all aspects of his daily life.

” You won’t find me doing anything crazy on TMZ,” Adesanya stated. Because I’m surrounded by the right people. The right people who ground me. My circle is very close and I love my family.

” I’m surrounded with people who care about me, love me, and want the best for my family and me. Although I have changed, I still feel the same. I said that from the jump. I keep the same energy.”

Aside from the cage, Adesanya’s visibility has increased through high-profile endorsements. These projects have continued to thrive.

Back in 2020, Adesanya became the first mixed martial artist to ever earn a sponsorship deal with Puma while becoming the face of their Oceania division as well as being featured in global ads around the world.

Just a few months ago, his passion for anime transformed into a voice acting role for the popular Netflix series Baki Hanma. He’s also a part owner in Engage, a clothing and equipment company, but even that went far beyond an investment strategy because he wanted to work alongside one of the founders.

“The man that started Engage, Ash Belcastro, he’s a guy that when he first approached us, I just thought he’s another guy with another idea,” Adesanya explained. “But when I really got to know him and felt him and he stuck around, I realized this guy’s not just looking to make a quick grab. He’s actually really passionate about what he does.

“Ash can talk about zippers or stitches for up to an hour. I can talk about it for like five or 10 minutes but he will ramble on about the lacing in the gloves, this and that, cause he’s passionate. I don’t care what you do in life, f*cking you’re a trash collector, if you’re passionate about something, it’s infectious and his passion is infectious.”

Adesanya believes that the one person he trusts the most is the person who’s always there for him, even when he’s away from the press conferences or in his corner during fights.

The man he calls “Dadesanya”, his father Oluwafemi, an accountant by profession, watches over his son. That’s something Israel doesn’t take for granted.

” “I am so grateful that I have one the most intelligent men with money behind my,” Adesanya stated about his father. “Rest in peace to Khabib [Nurmagomedov’s] dad. He was a guy that was with his son, cornering him, training him, building him up for fighting.

“I’m glad I have the smartest man I know with money my dad behind me, training me, building me up on how to flip my money the right way.”

If he’s victorious over Robert Whittaker in the UFC 271 main event Saturday, Adesanya’s profile will only grow larger and it’s likely the promotion will make an even bigger push for him now after he signed this new deal with them.

That might be overwhelming for some fighters but Adesanya has been predicting this kind of success since the day he first joined the UFC roster.

Obviously, Adesanya will never pretend to be infallible but addressing his mistakes and correcting course is why he’s confident that once the spotlight dims and the crowds empty the arena he’ll still be proud of the man he sees staring back at him in the mirror.

“I’m not saying I’m perfect,” Adesanya said. “I’m not a f*cking saint. I’m just a person. There are no bad or good people. They’re just people and people are capable of great good and great evil. Yes, there are flaws. There are things about me that I am not proud. As well, I have a history. However, I have learned from my mistakes like some others. I actually learn from my mistakes and I never repeat them again.

“That’s why I’m on the path that I’m on and also what I said before, I have the right people around me who love me and want the best for me.”