Israel Adesanya, the reigning UFC middleweight champion, has captured the hearts of fight fans worldwide with his unparalleled skills. However, what many don’t realize is that Adesanya’s championship journey is deeply intertwined with his experiences in China.
Over the course of four years, Adesanya held the UFC middleweight crown, besting formidable opponents like Robert Whittaker, Marvin Vettori, Anderson Silva, and Kelvin Gastelum. His fighting prowess has earned him a legion of devoted fans.
Yet, hidden beneath the surface lies Adesanya’s unique connection to China, a relationship that forged the foundation of his championship success. In a candid interview, Adesanya disclosed his struggle to gain recognition while fighting under the New Zealand banner. “People weren’t really paying attention,” he lamented.
However, fate had other plans for Adesanya in the land of the Great Wall. Initially brought to China as a journeyman for their fighters, Adesanya stunned everyone by consistently outperforming his opponents.
This led the Chinese kickboxing community to extend a welcoming hand, inviting him into their fold. He revealed, “But when I was fighting in China they brought me over there as a journeyman so all their guys could whup up on me. Then they realised that’s not gonna happen because I kept whupping up on their guys. Then they decided, ‘Let’s bring this guy into our team’.”
In China, he earned the moniker ‘The Black Dragon,’ a testament to his indomitable spirit.
Though limited sources corroborate his claim, Adesanya boasted an astonishing 32-0 record in his amateur kickboxing career. It was his time in China that honed his skills, shaping him into the formidable fighter we see today.
Israel Adesanya calls himself a “Chinese”
Israel Adesanya, the UFC middleweight champion, has left an indelible mark on the world of mixed martial arts. His journey to greatness includes a significant chapter in China, which is why he makes sure he’s repaying what he has.
In a past altercation with Dricus du Plessis this year in 2023, a revealing video emerged, showcasing Adesanya’s deep connection to China. With unwavering pride, he proclaimed, “I am the Black Dragon. I was born in Nigeria, grew up in New Zealand, but I have lived in China. So, I have embraced the Chinese culture. Black outside, China inside, I am Chinese.”
In a YouTube video, Adesanya further elaborated on his Chinese involvement, even playfully suggesting, “It looks like I’m like part of this Chinese man.” He attributes his formative years in China as the crucible that forged his character. “Those days made me the man I am today,” he remarked in an interview, cementing his belief that he is an integral part of China.
Adesanya’s story is a testament to the transformative power of culture and experience, a journey that has taken him from Nigeria to New Zealand, and finally, to a place where he proudly calls himself Chinese.