Israel Adesanya is a Nigerian UFC fighter and the current UFC middleweight champion. He is one of the fastest-rising superstars in the fight business. Nicknamed The Last Stylebender, he retained his middleweight title after he defeated Marvin Vettori for UFC 263 on Saturday night.
Adesanya has a record of 20 wins and only one loss as of Saturday night. Of the 20 wins, he has defeated his opponents by Knock Out on 15 occasions.
The UFC champion was born on July 22, 1989, to Femi Adesanya and Taiwo Adesanya. His father was a reputable accountant while his mother was a nurse. He is also the first child of his five siblings. He had his elementary education at Chrisland School, Lagos, before moving to The Bells Secondary School, Ota, Ogun State.
Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Adesanya participated in Taekwondo. He would later sustain a fracture, causing him to withdraw from the training. He later enrolled in a martial arts class because he was frequently bullied in school while in New Zealand. “I remember a kid from school kept on riding past my house and going: ‘Go back to your country, blackinese’,” he recalled in an interview with TMZ.
Adesanya and his family had migrated to New Zealand after abandoning the initial plan to move to the U.S. following the 9/11 attack. Prior to that, his family settled in Ghana before moving to Rotorua, New Zealand, according to Storytell.
In New Zealand, Adesanya attended Rotorua High School and continued to the Universal College of Learning in Whanganui, where he enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Computer Design. Inspired by the 2003 Thai martial arts movie, Ong-Bak, the Nigerian started kickboxing.
He subsequently quit his education to concentrate on his kickboxing career two years later. Before his debut professional career in the UFC, he fought in 32 amateur hours and won them all.
He started his UFC career in 2018 where he defeated Rob Wilkinson via technical knockout. He went on to win against heavyweights in the UFC, including Derek Brunson, Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, and Anderson Silva.
Adesanya has one of the highest career earnings in UFC. In his first UFC debut, he reportedly made $153,000, including a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus for his TKO against Rob Wilkinson, according to Sportskeeda.com.
He also made $430,000, including a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus and a $30,000 fight week incentive when he fought Kelvin Gastelum for the interim UFC middleweight championship.
He further pocketed $490,000, including a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus and a $40,000 fight week incentive pay when he defeated Robert Whittaker. He made $690,000 in his most recent title defense against Paulo Costa.
According to data from Sportskeeda.com, Adesanya has an estimated net worth of between $2.5 million and $3 million. He also has an endorsement deal with an Australia-based athletics gear and apparel company Engage. He additionally became the first MMA fighter to land a deal with footwear and apparel giant Puma.