Israel Adesanya is one of the greatest champions that the UFC has ever had. The Nigerian middleweight champion is unbeaten in the division after 21 fights. His only professional MMA loss came against light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. However, Israel Adesanya has faced a lot of adversity in his long career in combat sports, which includes almost 80 fights as a kickboxer.
'The Last Stylebender' uploaded a video to his YouTube channel where he answered some questions from his fans. One of the questions was about how Israel Adesanya reacts when he gets rocked in a fight. The fan asked if he was in fight-or-flight mode or whether he was trying to use his brain to figure out how to recover. Adesanya said:
"This has only happened to me, if I can think, in two fights, where I was rocked. One in kickboxing and one in MMA. The one in kickboxing was in China, it was against even a smaller guy and I just happened to get rocked in the first round later on."
Israel Adesanya said that this was the first time he ever got rocked, and all the doubts started seeping into his mind.
"That was my first time ever getting rocked in a fight and I thought - 'This is kickboxing on the feet and all. I kinda stopped, I was like shit. Is this the day I get beat? Is this the day I get knocked out? I said nah, not today.' And I survived the end of the first round."
Not only did Israel Adesanya survive, but he also attacked his opponent in rounds two and three to go on and win the fight. He was knocked out just once in his eighty-fight kickboxing career, and he swiftly moved over to MMA after that loss.
Israel Adesanya reveals that Kelvin Gastelum rocked him in their UFC 236 fight
Adesanya talked about how Gastelum rocked him with his early attacks in the first round. It was also the only time that the Nigerian native was ever rocked in MMA, and he stuck to the basics.
"The one I can think of in MMA, Gastelum. In the first round when he rocked me and I bounced off the cage and I took the center. That one, I just remembered to take the center and keep attacking. In the Gastelum fight, later on it was instinct and just drills, good technique."
The champion revealed the importance of training your muscle memory to cope with emergencies like this and revealed that overthinking will be your worst enemy in situations like this. Israel Adesanya went on to win this fight, which his coach Eugene Bareman stated was the toughest fight of the Nigerian's career.
"Muscle memory, teaching your muscles the right thing to do cause it's a whole system of neurons that we don't even like use in our muscles. Also, don't overthink it cause sometimes your brain will be your biggest saboteur, with all that self-preservation bullshit. I just trust my instincts." - said Israel Adesanya.
Watch the full video here: