On Sunday, undefeated interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will be headlining UFC 243, as he faces current middleweight champ Robert Whittaker in a unification fight at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. However, it appears that Adesanya and his coach, Eugene Bareman, have bigger things in mind for the future, including a move to the heavyweight division for the Nigerian-born fighter.
As quoted by MMA Mania, Adesanya and Bareman recently appeared on Submission Radio, where they discussed a variety of topics, including the former’s planned jump from middleweight to heavyweight. While Adesanya had been criticized in the past for making such plans in order to avoid fighting two-time light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, he explained that his main objective is to take advantage of the weaknesses that larger fighters such as reigning heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic have in the division.
“Yeah, definitely,” Adesanya was quoted as saying when asked about his chances of defeating Miocic.
“There are certain things we can take advantage of (at heavyweight). And people think I’m gonna have to put on size, but that’s cause they’re dumb, they don’t understand the game. I weighed in with full clothes and a box of Dunkin’ Donuts the last time I fought at heavyweight. And so I stayed the same weight, but I still packed a punch.”
In addition, Adesanya claimed to have “flatlined” another unspecified heavyweight without having to put on some pounds to improve his chances against bigger opponents. Prior to making the full-time move to mixed martial arts when he signed with UFC toward the end of 2017, he had a dominating run in the kickboxing scene, as noted previously by MMA Fighting.
In the UFC’s long history, it isn’t unusual for fighters to move up from one weight class to another, usually with the intent of facing a marquee opponent. The aforementioned Jones, for instance, had long been rumored to be planning a temporary move from light heavyweight to heavyweight, with Miocic and Daniel Cormier often mentioned as his potential opponents. However, Jones is still a mainstay of the light heavyweight division, while Cormier — a former light heavyweight champion himself — recently teased a final return to the octagon for a tiebreaking fight against Miocic, as reported this week by BJPenn.com.
Although the prospect of Adesanya facing a much larger man like Miocic in a potential “super fight” may sound interesting, MMA Mania pointed out that it may take a while before the UFC would consider such a contest. As explained, the New Zealand-based fighter would have to focus first on defeating Whitaker and unifying the middleweight belts on Saturday at UFC 243.