Israel Adesanya urges ‘patience’ amid UFC 300 rumours

Israel Adesanya has urged ‘patience’ amid rumours that his break from MMA could be short lived, and that he could headline UFC 300 in April.

Adesanya last fought in September, losing the middleweight title to Sean Strickland in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. After that bout, the Nigerian-born New Zealander said he would be taking a prolonged break from MMA. While Adesanya has since suggested that his hiatus will be briefer than fans first assumed, he has now downplayed the idea that he could return in April.

UFC 300 is still without a main event, and some fans have expressed hope that Adesanya, 34, could return to challenge for the middleweight title or the light-heavyweight belt, which is held by his rival Alex Pereira.

Yet Adesanya said on his YouTube channel on Monday (8 January): “I’m taking my time. I have patience – patience and the long run.

“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, [I had] four fights in 14 months. I know I’m on the backend 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 realised it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

“I’m still going to enjoy this. 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.”

Adesanya continued: “Look at the Pereira fight. I never looked for... Okay, after the second [kickboxing] fight in Brazil, he knocked me out, I was like: ‘Cool, that’s that.’ Then he chased me to UFC. It’s part of the story. Get to Madison Square Garden, beats me in almost the exact same fashion. I’m like: ‘Damn, the last round again.’

“And I wanted the rematch because I knew in my heart I could beat him. So, when I got to that point in Miami [at UFC 287], I just knew: ‘This is it. I have to beat this guy.’ And again, that took seven years, I think, to get to that point. Patience.”

Adesanya suffered two losses to Pereira during their time as kickboxers, losing to the Brazilian on points then via knockout. Pereira then took the UFC middleweight title from Adesanya via TKO in 2022, before the “Last Stylebender” finally overcame his rival with a knockout win in April 2023.

Five months later, Adesanya lost the title again with his defeat by Strickland, before Pereira stopped Jiri Prochazka in November to win the vacant light-heavyweight belt.

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