Israel Adesanya has established himself as one of the best middleweights to have ever stepped foot inside the octagon in a rather short period of time. He made his debut with the UFC in 2018 and in 2019, he went on to become the interim middleweight champion by beating Kelvin Gastelum.
In the same year, Adesanya fought Robert Whitaker and knocked him out in the second round to become the undisputed middleweight champion. Since then, he has gone on to defend his title five times.
For his first title defense he took on Yoel Romero in early 2020 and won by majority decision. Then, Adesanya fought Paulo Costa later in the same year in a highly anticipated grudge matchup. ‘Izzy’ handed Costa his first defeat in MMA by beating him via TKO in the second round.
Israel Adesanya then went on to fight Marvin Vettori in June 2021 and successfully defended his title yet again by winning the bout via majority decision. ‘Izzy’ was later booked to take on Robert Whittaker in a highly anticipated rematch earlier this year in February. As one would expect, the matchup was an entertaining watch and Adesanya walked away with yet another decision victory to his name.
His most recent outing came against Jared Cannonier in July this year. While the fight was considered to be rather boring, ‘Izzy’ walked away with yet another decision victory to his name.
Why does Israel Adesanya believe he has one extra title defense?
Adesanya has defended his UFC middleweight championship five times until now. However, he believes he has one extra title defense to his name because of his first fight against Robert Whittaker.
Leading up to his fight against Jared Cannonier, Adesanya spoke about the fact that his belt had five rubies. That means he is a five time defending champion. He said (H/T BJ Penn):
“It’s the same belt. That’s why I said to people that I’m a five-time defending champion. F**k what they said about four. This is just common sense. When the champ who couldn’t show up to work many times (Whittaker), who just pulled out recently as well, funny that, I’m the champ in the meantime. I beat him.”
It’s safe to say that Israel Adesanya counts his middleweight unification bout against Robert Whittaker in 2019 as a title defense as well. That said, ‘Izzy’ is set to take on Alex Pereira later this week to mark yet another title defense.