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Just how great can Israel Adesanya get?

  • The future is certainly bright for The Last Stylebender!
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Modified 06 Mar 2020, 07:57 IST

ISPS Handa Halberg Awards
ISPS Handa Halberg Awards

Ever since moving from the world of kickboxing; Israel Adesanya has climbed the ladder. Instead of jumping a couple of rungs at a time, he took the opposite approach. Step by step, one slightly better fighter than the last. He's a student of not only the fight game; but of life. He's learned from other's mistakes on their rise to stardom.

This brings us to Saturday night in Vegas vagainst Yoel Romero. Easily, The Soldier Of God is the best athlete he's faced in MMA. But just because you're a great athlete it doesn't make you a champion.

Yes, if Yoel could pull off the upset it would follow in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, Ray Bourque, and so many others winning after people wrote them off. And although many fans are already looking past the Cuban Olympian; rest assured Adesanya has done his homework and isn't. This threat to his belt is taken seriously despite the trash talk.

So what happens after a successful title defense? The then 19-0 New Zealander has some options. Having options is always a good thing. He and Jon Jones have had a fun time trolling each other and there's no love lost either. He could go up but there's still a lot of unfinished business at 185 for him.

Staying in his lane and being the dominant force in a division is highly touted. As a matter of fact, Adesanya and Jones in that sense have a lot in common. The 30-year-old Nigerian could go on a run like his mentor Anderson Silva. The line is already forming for the next challengers. Paulo Costa, according to Dana White, will, in fact, be next for him.

From there, the man that pushed him to the brink, Kelvin Gastelum, deserves a rematch. He's talked openly how he's no fan of Till, and although he likes Cannonier, he's on the shortlist too.

Guys like Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan are climbing the ranks and will soon be knocking on his door also. If former champion Chris Weidman truly decides to return to 185 he has to be in the mix as well. If he continues to run the table that would put him at 25-0. That puts him easily on the list of best middleweights in UFC history.

Away from the cage, his million-dollar smile should start seeing dividends pay off. It would not at all be a stretch to see him cross over to entertainment very soon. Again it's all about timing. And he's with the right manager too. With Audie Attar heading Paradigm Sports Management, that's a specialty of theirs. Just look at Cyborg and Conor McGregor's cross over status. Films, television, or who knows; a clothing line or alcohol line could be right around the corner.

Whether he'll go down in the cage as better than Spider or GSP is too far to call. But the trajectory he's on would make him 1 or 1a. What's scary is that he's still just a baby in MMA. Losing his first amateur fight and never tasting defeat since that day in 2009. Not to be overlooked is his importance in the MMA world in the Oceanic region. He's helped put City Kickboxing on the map. It's a shame that the UFC won't consider a cross-promotion with other organizations. Him vs Gegard Mousasi would be amazing. You can safely bet he'd love to have a name like Machida on his resume too.

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Even with a loss Saturday it won't detract from his ability to be great. For greatness, if believed in one's mind and soul; it can flourish in one's being. He can easily be this generation's beacon of light where there is so much darkness.

Published 06 Mar 2020, 07:57 IST
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