For Israel Adesanya, beating Anderson Silva proved he’s the best in the world

(Courtesy of MMAFightingonSBN)

Israel Adesanya has set the mixed martial arts world on fire. The undefeated 29-year-old has been nothing short of a wrecking machine as he rocketed into title contention.

On Saturday in Atlanta, he’ll get the opportunity to earn his first UFC gold belt, albeit not the undisputed title that he believes he will eventually have. When Adesanya meets Kelvin Gastelum in the UFC 236 co-main event, they will be battling for the interim UFC middleweight championship and a shot to unify that belt with the one currently wrapped around undisputed champion Robert Whittaker’s waist.

Whittaker is currently sidelined recovering from a dual surgery that knocked him out of his planned UFC 234 bout with Gastelum in Australia on the day of the fight.

Adesanya and his opponent, the legendary Anderson Silva, stepped up to the headlining slot, providing fans with an exciting fight, but one that only proved to justify Adesanya’s confidence in his belief that he sits atop the fighting hierarchy.

“To the younger me, (Silva) was the pinnacle of the sport. So when I beat him, s–t, I’m the best in the world,” Adesanya said during Wednesday’s UFC 236 open workout scrum. “I already knew it, but I just had to prove it to myself.”

Moving on from Silva, Adesanya believes that Whittaker, having had to withdraw from his UFC 234 bout with Gastelum, should have given up the belt instead of trying to hang on to it while recuperating. 

“If I’m in his situation, cool, take the belt, because I know I’m gonna get it back. That’s how confident I am. He’s not that confident,” said Adesanya, who then dismissed the champ.

“It’s not about him anyway, it’s all about Kelvin.”

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But while his attention is on Gastelum, Adesanya doesn’t think there is much of anything his opponent can do to win the fight. The Nigerian-born New Zealander believes that he possesses all the skill to defeat Gastelum, he just has to put  all his focus into where he wants the fight to go and he will win.

“It’s all about me and how I move in this fight,” Adesanya said. “It’s not really about him. He can do what he wants to do, but I’m going to make him do what I want to do.”

Israel Adesanya’s UFC 236 Open Workout Highlights

(Courtesy of MMAFightingonSBN)