‘Sleep on him, you’ll get slept’ – Adesanya on Silva
ISRAEL Adesanya concedes it hasn’t dawned on him.
In a little over three months, Adesanya will be trading blows with arguably the greatest mixed martial artist on the planet.
In a blockbuster pay-per-view card in Melbourne, the hype machine Adesanya (15-0) will meet the GOAT, Brazilian superstar Anderson Silva (34-8), in a fight for the ages.
It’s the new kid on the block versus 11-time UFC middleweight champion.
In an exclusive interview to announce the UFC 234 co-main event bout against Silva in February, Nigerian-born, New Zealand-based Adesanya admitted he was pinching himself at the prospect of challenging “The Spider”.
“It hasn’t really dawned on me yet, but I already know what’s expected,” Adesanya said.
“It’s been in the works for three weeks. They (UFC) wanted me and Anderson on a different date on the ESPN card to open up the year — which was going to be huge, even bigger than the Pay Per View — but I saw it all going down a different way.
“I went to Sydney with a few ideas, spoke to (UFC president) Dana White and he was on board, and then he put forward the idea for Anderson.
“Anderson said no and Jacare (Souza) was the next step up. Then he said no because he has injuries to take care of, which is fair enough, and then Anderson came back and said yes.
“We made him an offer he can’t refuse and here we are.”
The carrot of a title shot, should he beat Adesanya in Melbourne, was enough to convince Anderson to sign the dotted line.
“If he can beat me … if, and that’s a big if, he deserves to be the champion because I am the champion,” Adesanya said.
“We put out the bait and he took the bait, so good on him.”
With just four bouts under his belt in the UFC, the No.6 ranked Adesanya clashes with a man who owns the record for the longest title reign in UFC history.
“This is the guy that got me wanting to be the best fighter in the world,” Adesanya said of Silva.
“I had this misconception as a kid that to be a good fighter you had to have big muscles, be handsome and there’s some skinny, little black guy beating everyone’s a—.
“I was like f—, I could be the best in the world.
“It helped out the idea in my head that just because you’re skinny or don’t have the biggest muscles, doesn’t mean you can’t be the best fighter.
“People look at Bruce Lee as the godfather of martial arts. For me, my Bruce Lee was Jackie Chan. I grew up watching Jackie Chan movies, but Anderson Silva made me believe that I could be great at this.”
And Adesanya teased that he had “big plans” for the future.
“This is exactly what I wanted, it’s exactly what I put to Dana and now it’s coming to fruition,” Adesanya said.
“I’ve got some other things in the works. You guys just need to stay tuned and watch it all unfold. It’s going to be epic.
“I’m going to blow the roof off that place. It’s going to be epic and historic.”
A precursor to the UFC 234 main event, in which Sydney’s Rob Whittaker will defend his middleweight title against American Kelvin Gastelum, Adesanya has declared he wants a crack at Whittaker next.
“He’s the champion, and he is where he is because he a champion, but definitely I expect to face him,” Adesanya said.
“Kelvin Gastelum is tough as well. So we’ll see.”
It will take a monumental performance for Adesanya to beat Silva, but the newcomer plans to train his “a— off”.
He also joked that ne might need some spiritual help to overcome the legend.
“(I’ll) speak to someone at my mum’s village who is a wish doctor and we’re going to get some dope witchcraft in my favour and hopefully we can do something to blow his knee out in the second round,” Adesanya laughed.
When he reflected on a serious note, Adesanya knows what it won’t be easy to beat Silva.
“This is a guy who has won his last three fights,” Adesanya said.
“Look at the (Michael) Bisping fight. They gave it to Bisping, but I had Anderson winning that fight.
“If you look at when he got dropped in that fight, as Bisping rushed in for the kill he up-kicked him in the face and could’ve knocked him out.
“So this isn’t a guy you want to sleep on. If you sleep on him, you’ll get slept. So I’m not sleeping on him.”
An outspoken and brutally honest character, “The Last Stylebender” declared he and Silva will fill Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on February 10.
“Me and Anderson in the co-main event … that’s the real reason why people will come and watch this card now,” Adesanya said.
“The main event was already going to sell this fight, but now … we’re the icing on top and the hundreds and thousands and the sprinkles and the cherry on top.”