For Israel Adesanya (14-0-0), his scheduled fight against Derek Brunson (18-6-0) at UFC 230 is nothing more than a straightforward way to add a fifteenth victory to his perfect professional MMA record.
Speaking to Luke Thomas on this weeks episode of the MMA Hour, Adesanya didn’t shy away from calling it as he sees it and in his eyes, Brunson is “in over his head on this one”.
“He didn’t call me out, the UFC made him call me out. He wouldn’t even dare say my name,” said Adesanya. “I feel like he’s in a position where if he turned down a fight with me it would make him look bad. They forced him to take that fight because he wouldn’t dare call me out by himself. He was trying to make it out like, ‘Sign the contract’, but I was like, ‘Bro, I signed the contract two days ago, what are you on about?’ This ain’t the WWE and I keep up that same energy, but I think he’s in over his head on this one.”
“He’s never been in a fight like this. He’s had big fights, high profile fights, I know he’s fought Anderson Silva, but he hasn’t been in a fight with anyone like me, so I think it’s a new territory for him.”
Addressing their somewhat boisterous stare down at the UFC’s 25th anniversary press conference, ‘The Last Stylebender’ believes he is “already in [Brunson’s] head and he’s in his feelings like Drake”. Of all the stare down’s which took place that night, theirs was easily the most lively with Brunson making a lot of noise from the moment he arrived on stage.
“I think the guy is already scared, man,” Adesanya said. “You see how he carried himself on the stage? It’s funny, he didn’t have that same energy about 30 minutes ago at the hotel. He’s a certain kind of guy because the people around him want him to flex and sell the fight.”
“He’s coming out with all this stuff like, ‘Oh you’re too skinny bro’, and I’m like, ‘Bro, this isn’t CrossFit’.”
“I’m not even skinny, he’s just fat. Did you see his body up on that stage? He had a little soufflé around his waist. I’m already in his head, and he’s in his feelings like Drake.”
When asked what challenges he felt his opponent might present, the 26-year-old appeared entirely unconcerned by anything Brunson may be bringing to the table on fight night, citing “bum rushing and falling into a take down” as the American’s only shot at taking control of the fight.
“Him falling into a take down, that’s about it. Bum rushing and falling into a take down. You’ve seen my last fight and my first fight in the UFC. You’ve seen my last fight, how many times did those guys try to take me down? And they weren’t bad grapplers,” he added.
“Brunson, I don’t know what his credentials are as a wrestler or whether he’s an All-American division one or whatever, but regardless, my take down defense is not something he wants to mess with. And my footwork. I don’t see anything else that he brings to the table.”
“Come on, look at his resume, look at his highlights. This guy got knocked out by Jacare twice and Jacare has got some of the stiffest stand-up there is; even though he hits hard he’s just stiff in the way that he moves. How the fuck is Brunson going to hit me with some overhand right coming all the way from six o’clock? There’s nothing the guy has to offer.”
While eager not to put unnecessary pressure on himself to end the fight quickly, Adesanya is more than confident that Brunson will struggle to see out the first five minutes of the fight.
“I want to punish him, but I don’t think he’s going to last a round because of the way he fights. Even at that press conference, if not for Dana White, he would’ve ran straight into what ever I wanted. I had already established my distance with hand on his chest and he’s already running forward with his chin up. That already tells me how he’s going to approach this fight.”