"Who's gonna break it up when I'm in a clinch?" - When Israel Adesanya dismissed Canelo Alvarez as the best pound-for-pound fighter

Canelo Alvarez (left) & Israel Adesanya (right)
Canelo Alvarez (left) & Israel Adesanya (right)

Israel Adesanya has always had a tremendous amount of respect for Canelo Alvarez and all he has done in the squared circle. However, fans calling Canelo the best pound-for-pound fighter is something that did not sit right with the Kiwi.

Canelo earned a lot of recognition as the greatest P4P fighter in the world when he dismantled Sergay Kovalev to lay claim to the WBO Light Heavyweight title in 2019. It etched his name in boxing folklore as a four-division champion.

However, Israel Adesanya, while in conversation with Ariel Helwani in 2019, admitted that the mantle of the greatest P4P fighter should only be reserved for practitioners of MMA. While he meant no disrespect, it was the technicality of the term 'Pound-for-Pound Fighter' that irked the New Zealander:

"People now go, 'Oh bro, he's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world'. 'Fighter'. But I know in my heart, I know in my soul that if I faced up against a guy on a different style, judo guy or jiujitsu guy on the streets, who's going to break it up when I'm in a clinch? I never want to feel vulnerable in any situation. I never want to feel like any man can checkmate me," admitted Israel Adesanya.

Israel Adesanya talked up his versatility

The middleweight kingpin's stand-up game is virtually immaculate. Never has Israel Adesanya found himself in trouble on his feet. With a rich background in kickboxing, his striking is just as good as his footwork.

However, he has rarely been taken to the canvas. Nonetheless, Adesanya declared that he was equally effective when it came to ground and pound:

"People haven't even seen my ground game yet. Like they've seen bits and pieces of it. But you haven't even seen my top game. Khabib ain't the only one who can maul people," said Israel Adesanya.

The fact that 'The Last Stylebender' talked up his ground game only to suffer his first loss in the UFC by getting mauled on the canvas by Jan Blachowicz is interesting. However, that loss can be attributed to the fact that it was Adesanya's debut at light heavyweight.


When it came to wrestling at middleweight, Israel Adesanya redeemed himself. Marvin Vettori, in their rematch at UFC 263, gave everything he had to take the Kiwi to the ground but his defense was just too strong.

Do you think Israel Adesanya is as versatile as he claimed he was back in 2019? Break it down in the comments!

Edited by John Cunningham

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