Israel Adesanya, the reigning UFC middleweight champion, has expressed gratitude for what appears to be the end of his long-standing rivalry with Jon Jones.
The animosity between 'The Last Stylebender' and 'Bones' has been well-documented, particularly since Adesanya's meteoric rise to championship status in 2019. However, any talks of a potential showdown between the two fighters came to a halt when Jones announced his intention to move up to the heavyweight division.
Jones made his highly anticipated heavyweight debut at UFC 285 against Ciryl Gane, securing a first-round submission victory. This triumph not only earned him the heavyweight championship but also positioned him for a potential future clash against Stipe Miocic.
Amidst the buzz surrounding Jones' success, it became apparent that the rivalry with Adesanya had dissipated. In a surprising turn of events, Jones publicly declared Adesanya as his favorite current MMA fighter in March.
For Israel Adesanya, this acknowledgment from his former rival serves as a significant testament to personal growth. During a recent appearance on the Impaulsive podcast, the middleweight champion revealed his admiration for Jones and emphasized that they can both achieve greatness in their respective divisions.
“I don’t even like to talk about this s*it. But like for me, growth is something you have to go through as a human being,” Israel Adesanya stated on the podcast regarding Jon Jones’ comments.
“As a man, especially, maturity. There was a point where we were, I came to the UFC. I feel like it’s up to him to admit this, but I feel like he was a fan, but he was kind of like ‘Ugh, there’s another one coming in and taking the shine’. But there’s enough room for us to shine.”
He continued, “…We can be in our own lanes and be great. I’ve been a fan of Jon since UFC 94 when he fought Stephan Bonnar. I saw what he did in that fight… But yeah. Real recognize real, I’ll put it that way.”
Adesanya's comments highlight a mature perspective that transcends the boundaries of rivalry. Rather than dwelling on past conflicts, he recognizes the potential for individual excellence and success in their distinct weight classes. Both fighters have captivated fans with their unique styles and impressive records, cementing their positions as two of the sport's most talented athletes.
For now, Israel Adesanya can appreciate the growth and mutual respect that has emerged from his rivalry with Jon Jones. As he continues to defend his middleweight title and cement his legacy, fans can look forward to witnessing the brilliance and unique styles of both fighters, each carving their path to greatness within the UFC.