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Israel Adesanya's coach reveals which one of his 100-plus fights was the toughest

Israel Adesanya is one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA today
Israel Adesanya is one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA today
Johny Payne
Modified 15 Oct 2020, 07:20 IST

Israel Adesanya’s most recent Octagon outing was an emphatic victory over Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September of this year.

In a fight that witnessed a heated buildup between the archrivals, Adesanya managed to dominate and defeat Costa via TKO in Round two of their UFC Middleweight Title bout.

Despite sporting an undefeated record as a professional MMA fighter, Israel Adesanya did come dangerously close to tasting defeat in his five-round war against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 last year. Now the Last Stylebender and his coach has opened up about the fight on The Fight with Teddy Atlas podcast.

Israel Adesanya’s coach reveals that Kelvin Gastelum was his toughest fight in a long time

Israel Adesanya faced Kelvin Gastelum for the Interim UFC Middleweight Championship in April of 2019, in a fight that turned out to be a back-and-forth war.

In an appearance on The Fight with Teddy Atlas podcast, Israel Adesanya and his coach Eugene Bareman opened up on a lot of topics. Atlas addressed Adesanya’s war with Gastelum and said that the current UFC Middleweight truly found himself in that fight.

Atlas reiterated his aforesaid sentiment and noted that Adesanya’s fight against Gastelum helped prove that he does indeed belong among the best fighters in the world.

Similarly, Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman concurred that his fighter was pushed to his limits by Gastelum in their matchup. He also added that Adesanya proved that when taken into the deep waters, he can rise to the occasion rather than succumb to the pressure.

Bareman also pointed out that they’ve grown exponentially from their experience against Gastelum.

He continued that in about 100 fights that Adesanya competed in prior to his clash against Gastelum, the Middleweight Champion's mental fortitude had never been tested as much as it was during UFC 236.


Israel Adesanya reveals he was willing to die and kill in the fifth round of his fight against Kelvin Gastelum

Furthermore, Israel Adesanya chimed in with his views on his hard-fought victory over Kelvin Gastelum and asserted that he was willing to "die and kill" as they headed into the fifth and final round of their fight.

Adesanya recalled that Gastelum rocked him with a headkick in Round four but didn’t realize that he was hurt. He added that Gastelum then tried to take him down but failed.

The Last Stylebender revealed that he walked back to his corner after the end of the fourth round and was then given a motivational speech by his coach Eugene Bareman ahead of the final round.

Israel Adesanya stated:

“I looked across the cage at Kelvin and I could see him, and I swear he looked like ‘ese diablo’ (the devil). That’s how I could see him.”
“I looked at him and said, ‘You’re not going to beat me. I’m prepared to die’. And that’s scary. I get chills every time I say it because I meant that. What a glorious death. What a way to go out.”
“And that’s something that most people only dream of. But when I said that in that fifth round, Teddy, I was trying to kill him. I’m not mincing words. Not that I’m trying to kill him; I was trying to finish him.”
“I’m glad he was alive, but if something bad had happened to him in that fight, I would’ve been OK because I was ready to give my life up. It’s scary for me to say, but I found a new self. I found the confidence that I could do that.” (*H/T Sportskeeda for the transcription)

What are your views on Teddy Atlas, Eugene Bareman, and Israel Adesanya’s statements? Sound off in the comments. 

Published 15 Oct 2020, 07:20 IST
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