Las Vegas, Nevada — Despite suffering his first defeat as a mixed martial artist, Israel Adesanya was in good spirits following UFC 259.
His bid for a second title, against light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz, did not go Adesanya’s way. Channeling Max Holloway, “The Last Stylebender” noted “it is what it is.”
“If I was going to lose to anyone, what better guy to lose to than a guy like Jan. A classy champion, a cool dude, a very nice guy, a guy who has a great story in himself,’ Adesanya stated at the UFC 259 post-fight press conference. Noting the Polish champ’s own comeback story, after toiling in the 205lb division earlier in his career, Adesanya reiterated that “if I was going to lose to anyone, I’m glad I lost to him.”
Like Dana White, Adesanya was a bit puzzled by the judges awarding Blachowicz a pair of 10-8 rounds. “I don’t know about those 10-8 rounds and I don’t know about some of those scorecards from the judges,” he said. The fight was a close one, and neither fighter seemed to take an inordinate amount of damage. “I lost the fight to the better fighter tonight, the craftier fighter tonight. But it wasn’t like an ass-whupping or anything. When he had me on the ground, if he had postured up and then wailed on me and thrown some crazy elbows and crazy punches and connected crazy, I could say yeah, give it a 10-8, give it a 10-7 even, use the whole 10-point must system. But there wasn’t none of that.” Instead, Blachowicz did just just enough to keep him down, working in shots to keep the ref from standing it up. “That’s a veteran move, because he’s a veteran in this game.”
Adesanya had a 20-0 record heading into Saturday night. Come the end of the fight, it stood at 20-1. But he’s not regretting the decision to move up a weight class and try for a second title.
“No regrets. No regrets,” replied Adesanya (or maybe it was no ragrets). “I feel like boxing, or the boxing model, has made it a bad thing to lose. Which, yeah, it sucks losing, don’t get me long. But it’s not like the end of the world. Like I said, I’ve lost before in the past [in kickboxing].”
In boxing, more so than MMA, emphasis is put on maintaining a perfect, or near perfect record. With more ways to lose in mixed martial arts, fewer fighters stay perfect — but the mentality has certainly crept in. That, despite one of the sport’s mottos being “you win or you learn.”
For Adesanya, the door isn’t shut on light heavyweight. He just won’t be moving back up in the immediate future.
“Definitely you’ll see me back at 205 in future. But right now, I’ve got a division I’ve got to dominate,” the middleweight champ said. “And I know they’re going to be thinking ‘aww that’s it, you just gotta take him down, and then that’s it, you got him!’ Alright, cool, bet. But I’ll remind them why I’m the king at 185.”
Watch the full UFC 259 post-fight press conference with Israel Adesanya above.