This past weekend, UFC President Dana White confirmed that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya would be moving up to light heavyweight to challenge newly crowned 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz for his next fight. Adesanya had been teasing a move up to 205 for a while, projecting to do it next year for a superfight with Jon Jones, after he had cleaned out the middleweight division. But with Robert Whittaker defeating Jared Cannonier at UFC 254, and no other clear-cut contender for Adesanya to face, the champion says his timeline accelerated.
“Robert did well to stifle Jared and broke his arm, and I was looking forward to that fight,” Adesanya told Submission Radio. “So, I was like, alright. And then it’s like the ultimate alley-oop from the universe. I’m like, yes, it’s perfect. And this is the thing, you have to be flexible in this game. In life, you have to be flexible, cause nothing’s certain, nothing’s given. The landscape of things change all the time. And yeah, this is just right there for the taking. So, I was like, this is perfect. This is perfect for that Jones fight I keep talking about, this is perfect leading up to it.”
Talking about a fight with Jon Jones though is skipping over one important step: Adesanya first has to beat Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz won the belt with a second-round knockout over Dominick Reyes, a man many people believe beat Jones in his previous fight, at UFC 253. He’s a well-rounded fighter certainly doesn’t view himself as a stepping stone for Adensaya, and “The Last Stylebender” agrees. In fact, that’s partly why Adesanya wants to take this fight, because it’s a more interesting challenge than facing Robert Whittaker again.
“With Jan, he’s a good fighter, he’s solid on the ground, he’s awkward on the feet, very dangerous, and he poses a lot of problems,” Adesanya said. “And like, the Whittaker fight wouldn’t get me hard. This gets me hard. Like, this is like, alright, let’s go.”
“He’s dangerous on the ground, he’s awkward on the feet, got that legendary Polish power. But yeah, everyone’s got power, right? I mean, it’s something I proved in my last fight. I told y’all. You have to delivery that power somehow, you have to get it to the target. I’m not the easiest target to hit.”
Should Adesanya get past Blachowicz though, a bout with Jones seems to be inevitable, and after UFC Vegas 12 this past Saturday, Adensanya admitted that’s his plan: to face Jones in the biggest fight in UFC history next year when fans are allowed back at events. And though Adesanya could likely just fight Jones next without a belt on the line, he says that taking Jon’s old title away from Jan would be an extra dig at the former champion.
“It’s just a big f*ck you to him, just to be like, I did something you couldn’t,” Adesanya said. “I mean, he cleared the division of the light heavyweight twice over and then started fighting recycled middleweights. So, don’t come at me talking about ‘move up in weight and fight’ when you can’t even do the same thing after over 10 years in the company. So, I’m actually about to do it. It’s a good fight for me to do it with.”
Jones is the most dominant light heavyweight of all time, but one of the things detractors of Jones often mention is his reticence to move up to heavyweight. Though he often teased bumping up in weight divisions, Jones has still never done so. However, earlier this year Jones vacated his light heavyweight title and said it was with the intention of moving up to compete for the heavyweight belt, so if that comes to pass before he and Adesanya can fight, well then Adesanya wants to take that title too.
“I realize I’m about to do something in literally in three years, what Jones hasn’t even done in over how long in the company? Over 10 years,” Adesanya said. “I’m about to do it in three years and move up in weight. He’s doing it now after how long? And we’re still waiting to seeing if he’s actually gonna do it. And like, it’s crazy how everything’s just set up, man. [When] I take this belt from Jan, if for whatever reason Jones actually moves up and fights at heavyweight, like, imagine if he got the belt somehow, by some freak of nature, and I’m like, f*ck you, I’m going to heavyweight then. Three belts at the same time.”