Israel Adesanya was one of the only two men who could hold a claim for being "Fighter of the year" in 2019. The other man, of course, was Jorge Masvidal - one who has been given more praise for his instant rise to the top with three spectacular victories.
Either way, Adesanya's achievements haven't gone unnoticed in his homeland of New Zealand. The Nigerian-born UFC Middleweight Champion took the MMA world by storm last year when he had a great main event fight against Anderson Silva, a fight of the year bout against Kelvin Gastelum, and a crowning performance against Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker at Melbourne, Australia to become the King of the 185-pound division.
In the 57th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards recently, Israel Adesanya won the "New Zealand Sportsman of the Year" award. It was a historic win because no athlete belonging to combat sports has ever won that honor before. While Heavyweight Boxer Joseph Parker was nominated, he ultimately fell short.
Adesanya, in his speech, said that the award was about so much more than just him. He paid tribute to the old guard of Kiwi combat athletes and hoped that his victory would inspire the younger generation of New Zealand in any athletic field.
We would like to congratulate The Last Stylebender on a well-deserved award. His next challenge is a big one, as he returns to American soil to take on Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 248. It will be his first defense of the Middleweight Championship (though Adesanya claims it's his second since he considers the Robert Whittaker fight his first successful title defense). Stay tuned for Sportskeeda's coverage of the event!