Israel Adesanya’s coach believes that the world has only seen a small portion of what the middleweight champion is truly capable of. He also feels like that this weekend’s matchup with Marvin Vettori might be what brings the best out of “Stylebender.”
Adesanya will defend the UFC Middleweight Championship this Saturday, June 12, against #3 ranked middleweight contender Marvin Vettori. It’s a rematch from a bout in 2018 in which Adesanya won by split decision. However, Vettori still believes that he was the deserving winner of the three-round bout and that he has given the champion his toughest test in the middleweight division so far in the UFC.
Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman was asked about what fans should expect from Adesanya’s return to the 185-pound division following his light heavyweight defeat to Jan Blachowicz earlier this year. It’s really as simple as expecting the unexpected.
“Every fight of Israel’s is typically an edge-of-your-seat kind of thing,” Bareman told Combat TV. “The guy has an infinite amount of tools, weapons, and techniques of which the world has only seen five-to-ten percent of.
“There are so many things we’ve worked on over the last decade-plus, that he hasn’t had the opportunity or right time to use yet,” Bareman explained. “Those things are always capable of presenting themself, so you just never know.”
Although Adesanya has only been with the promotion since February 2018, his time with the UFC has been filled with memories such as the brilliant five-round war with Kelvin Gastelum, the perfect left-hook shot to put Robert Whittaker away, and the masterful display of striking against Paulo Costa.
And on a much smaller scale, there are memorable moments such as Adesanya’s Imanari roll attempt against Brad Tavares that indicate there are certainly more tricks up Adesanya’s sleeve.
Imanari Roll par Israel Adesanya pic.twitter.com/bSOaLNOkES
— Borz (@borzzmma) February 28, 2021
When Adesanya fought light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in March, he was outclassed both on the feet and on the ground. It wasn’t a one-sided beatdown or a particularly flashy performance, but Blachowicz caused problems for Adesanya in a way that no one else had managed to do before him.
Bareman believes that something important was missing from the build-up to the Blachowicz fight, but it’s something that could be a factor against Vettori this Saturday night.
“Absolutely [is a personal fight for Adesanya], and there’s an argument out there that Israel needs that,” Bareman said.
“The one fight where we didn’t have much of that going on was the last one in which we lost, so maybe Israel needs a little bit of that. Maybe time will tell. He’s highly motivated for this given the events that have happened and given what went on with him and Vettori and given that they incorrectly judged the fight last time and said it was close when Israel thought that he won fairly comfortably. I think Israel wants to go out there and prove a point and put on a clinic.”
We saw the heated rivalry on full display last weekend as Adesanya and Vettori exchanged insults during an interview moderated by Michael Bisping.
Bareman takes confidence that this is the right kind of motivation for Israel Adesanya.
“I think Israel is too experienced to let that kind of thing happen,” Bareman explained when asked if the fight being personal could hinder Adesanya’s efforts.
“I’m not sure how big the roster is in the UFC but I don’t think that there’s another fighter that has had 100-plus fights. Not a single one. I think he’s the only one. He’s the most experienced combat sports athlete in that whole roster by a country mile.
“Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone. Obviously, there’s Loma from Tiger [Muay Thai] but being a female Thai fighter I don’t think she reached — her numbers weren’t like the rest of the male Thais.”
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.