Was Israel Adesanya ever a kickboxing champion?


Was Israel Adesanya ever a kickboxing champion?

Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya is one of the most recognizable faces from the realm of mixed martial arts. His star carries over to the world of mainstream sports as well.

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His huge star is thanks to the immense technique he puts on show each time he enters the octagon. The other half of his popularity has come due to the Nigerian-Kiwi’s absolute wizardry with words, and sheer confidence. However, one must not give any less attention to the former aspect of his overall character.

Israel Adesanya has delivered to UFC fans some of the most exciting performances and knockouts in the last four years – the ones of Derek Brunson, Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa springing to mind immediately. His success in the middleweight division is in huge part down to unmatched skill – the division had not seen such an exquisite striker with incredible counter-attacking abilities, since maybe, Anderson Silva. One round, and fans could tell that Adesanya’s fighting style was based on a kickboxing base.

That begs to ask the question – Did Israel Adesanya ever compete in kickboxing, and if he did, was he a champion? Fret not, this article will seek to answer all your queries. To get to the very first question – yes, Israel Adesanya had a kickboxing career, and a very prolific one, at that. In a career spanning 80 fights, Adesanya mainly featured in the King in the Ring Championship and under the Glory banner – of the former, he became the cruiserweight champion twice in the heavyweight class, having beat Jamie Eades and Pati Afoa.

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Israel Adesanya wins the King in the Ring championship
Israel Adesanya wins the King in the Ring championship

Israel Adesanya moved up to heavyweight in King in the Ring in 2015, defeating Jamie Eades once again to become the tournament champion. Very interestingly, Adesanya also has boxing credentials under his belt – he won the Super 8 boxing championship in 2015, by defeating Brian Minto.

Related- WATCH: “He who’s beaten up never forgets” Alex Pereira cuts a terrifying promo for UFC 281 title fight against Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya transitioned to MMA after a long, but bittersweet end to his kickboxing career

Israel Adesanya (on the canvas) is defeated by Alex Pereira

It is his time under the Glory banner that really earnt him fame and his stripes, before landing in the UFC. In the promotion, he had memorable wins over Yousri Belgaroui and Bogdan Stoica. He won the Glory Middleweight Contender Tournament, with a split-decision win over Belgaroui.

However, his time in kickboxing would come to an end soon after winning the tournament. Post his win, he took on Jason Wilnis for the Glory middleweight title – which ended in a loss for him, despite the decision being mired in controversy. Before his fight with Wilnis, Adesanya took on long-time foe Alex Pereira, who beat him by decision. In a 2016 rematch of the same bout, Pereira captured all the headlines with a stunning KO of the Kiwi-Nigerian, which forced him to look for greener pastures, despite amassing a stunning 75-5 kickboxing record.

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Also Read- “I’d love to see… win” – Sean O’Malley picks his winner for the Adesanya vs Pereira fight at UFC 281

Israel Adesanya is most famous for being the middleweight champion of the UFC. However, that is not the only MMA competition he has partaken in. Amidst his kickboxing career, Adesanya also won the AFC middleweight championship and the Hex Fight Series middleweight championship.

His exploits in the UFC are very well documented. However, he can finally exact revenge on the man who has gotten the better of him on two previous occasions, albeit under a kickboxing format. Israel Adesanya is the undisputed middleweight champion of the UFC, but in Alex Pereira, he faces not only the ex-Glory middleweight champion, but also the only man to have put his back on the canvas. Could UFC 281 be the time for redemption for Israel Adesanya?

Also Read- “Soul snatcher Alex Pereira” – Fans react as Alex Pereira stares daggers at Israel Adesanya at UFC 276 press event

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