UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping believes the financial pressure of being a champion may have played a "subconscious" part in the recent performances of Israel Adesanya and Jon Jones.
Adesanya was heavily criticized for his lackluster performance against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276. It was in part the fault of Cannonier, who wasn't nearly as aggressive as fans had hoped. However, the lack of a finish by 'Izzy', which he had promised in the build-up, left fans disappointed. Instead, the champion opted to methodically pick 'The Killa Gorilla' apart for a unanimous decision victory.
During a recent video on his YouTube channel, Michael Bisping questioned whether Adesanya's performance was due to the pressure of endorsement deals. Champions know that losing in the octagon will have an adverse effect on their finances. 'The Count' stated:
"I'm not saying [Israel] Adesanya should have been risky or go for the knockout like a madman. What I'm saying is if you're in that position which he is now, Adesanya's got a deal with Puma... One fight can take that all away. You do subconsciously start developing a different style."
The former middleweight champion then spoke about how the same thing could have happened to Jon Jones:
"Maybe that's what went on with Jon Jones as well... The Jon Jones of the early days, that was going out there and just blitzing people from the very beginning, didn't give a sh*t, throwing caution to the wind... that guy didn't have the pressure Jon Jones has now. I'm talking about the financial burden, the financial pressure."
Israel Adesanya's decision victory over Jared Cannonier extended his undefeated middleweight run (12-0) and was his fifth successful title defense.
The Nigerian-born New Zealander's last finish in the octagon came in 2020 when he defeated Paulo Costa. Adesanya is now tied for the second lowest finish rate amongst the current UFC champions, just a spot above women's strawweight titleholder Carla Esparza.
Watch Michael Bisping discuss UFC fighters' financial pressures here:
Chris Pratt apologizes to Israel Adesanya for criticizing the middleweight champion's performance
Among the fans who felt let down after UFC 276's main event was famous Hollywood actor Chris Pratt. He sat down at the ESPN analyst desk and expressed his disappointment at Israel Adesanya's performance.
'Izzy' took to Twitter to send a message to the actor:
"Good morning. I'm the man. You're just some fan."
The message from Adesanya caught the attention of the 43-year-old, who responded directly to the tweet and apologized for what he said Saturday night:
"You're right. I'm sorry brutha. It bugs me when people criticize my work - having never themselves risked anything. It makes me a hypocrite to do exactly that to you. My bad. Keep on keeping on champ."
'The Last Stylebender' is now expected to face longtime rival Alex Pereira next. 'Poatan' shocked fans when he dismantled No.4-ranked Sean Strickland in the very first round with a devastating left-hook KO.
Israel Adesanya and Pereira have fought previously during their kickboxing days. The pair met twice, with the Brazilian getting the victory both times. The second win was a KO victory, the only stoppage loss of Adesanya's entire fighting career.