Israel Adesanya seeks quality over quantity upon UFC return: ‘I know I’m on the backend of my career’

Israel Adesanya will be more tactical moving forward when it comes to his UFC career.

Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) lost his middleweight title to Sean Strickland this past September at UFC 293. It was a stunning upset as Adesanya was dropped early and never quite looked the same for the remainder of the fight.

In a sitdown interview with legendary boxing coach Teddy Atlas, Adesanya opened up on the loss and how his head coach, Eugene Bareman, had to hold him back.

“I got to a point in the fight where it was the end of the round, and I remember looking down. As I looked down, I saw droplets of blood,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I was like, ‘Damn, he got me with that jab.’ Because his jab was different. It was like a hammerfist. … It was catching me because off-beat timing, I just wasn’t there. Unexpected. I never lost hope. I went back to the corner. I was like, ‘Right, we go this round. We must go this round.’ So I was – even like when I asked Eugene in the fifth round, like, ‘Is this the fifth round?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘Right.’ And I said, ‘Should I just go?’ And he’s like, ‘No, let’s be tactical.’

“I was kind of like, ‘F*ck it, let’s go. If I die, I die. Go out on your shield. Kill or be killed.’ But then Eugene was like, ‘No, let’s be tactical.’ It got to the point where I realized, ‘OK, this fight is getting away from me.’ It got to a point where I felt like, ‘Damn, it’s too far gone.’ He was too far ahead, and I couldn’t catch up. I was trying my best to finish him in the early rounds but, regardless, I never lost hope.”

Adesanya, 34, announced afterward that he’d be taking some extended time off, but it apparently won’t be for as long as people think. However, when he returns, he’ll be taking a different approach to fighting.

“That’s why I’m taking this time off,” Adesanya said. “People were talking like I’m retiring or taking five years off. I’m like, ‘Chill, don’t worry.’ My time off is different to most people’s time off. People take two years off. I’m not doing that. Like I said, four fights in 14 months. I know I’m on the back end of my career. I know when I’m done with this, I’m going to miss it. So I was trying to do as much as I can. Then I realized it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

“I’m still going to enjoy this. (In 2024) when I fight – I know I’ll fight (in 2024). I don’t know when I’m going to fight, but when I fight, it’s going to be quality. It’s not going to be quantity.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie