UFC President Dana White says the New Zealand Mixed Martial Arts fighter Israel Adesanya has got “it”.
Adesanya beat Anderson Silva in a middleweight bout at UFC 234 in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 29 year old Nigeria-born Kiwi and Brazilian legend Silva were originally scheduled to face off in the night’s co-main event.
They were promoted to the main event of the show after Australian UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker withdrew from his fight against Kelvin Gastelum because of a hernia injury.
Undefeated former kickboxing star Adesanya’s fight against 43-year-old former middleweight champion Silva, who was returning from a two-year hiatus – which included a one-year doping ban, had already been billed as a world title eliminator.
Adesanya went blow-for-blow with Silva and won a unanimous decision.
That win only confirmed what a lot of observers have already been saying: Adesanya is the real deal.
UFC president Dana White agrees. Asked how Adesanya compares to stars like Conor McGregor, White didn’t shy away from declaring that Adesanya has an appeal all his own.
“The kid’s got ‘it.'” White said at the UFC 234 post-fight press conference. “He’s got that – not only is he talented in the Octagon, he’s talented outside of it too. His interviews are exciting, he’s an interesting guy. He’s fun to watch. And I think he’s got a really bright future here.”
The Adesanya-Silva fight was billed as a number one contender’s bout and White confirmed that Adesanya is the number one contender, but a meeting between him and Whittaker will be dependent on Whittaker’s health.
Adesanya is now 5-0 in the UFC and 16-0 overal.