Fighters often speak volumes through their actions inside the octagon. Israel Adesanya, the former middleweight champion, is no stranger to this notion.
After a lopsided unanimous decision loss to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 and personal challenges stemming from a guilty plea for drunk driving, "The Last Stylebender" has made a bold decision – he's stepping away from the cage for an extended hiatus.
Adesanya's loss to Strickland at the September pay-per-view event was a turning point in his career. Despite the setbacks, Adesanya showed his character by giving full credit to his opponent.
"I’m not making any excuses," he declared. "Strickland got me on the night because he was the better fighter on the night. He did his work well, he had a good team behind him."
Adesanya understands the need to focus on self-care and self-improvement. He acknowledges the need for a break but is adamant that this isn't a signal of retirement. He's determined to make the necessary lifestyle changes and adaptations to come back stronger.
"I’m going to heal myself up," Adesanya asserted. "You won’t see me fight for a long time."
The fighter, known for his electrifying style and resilience, has faced a series of challenges recently, losing two of his last three fights. However, he started 2023 with a spectacular knockout victory against Alex Pereira at UFC 287, recapturing the 185-pound title.
The unexpected vacancy in the UFC 294 lineup, originally intended for Khamzat Chimaev's opponent, briefly piqued Adesanya's interest. Yet, he and his team decided that it wasn't the right time to return. However, when he does, Adesanya sends a warning to the entire division.
"When I come back," he exclaimed, "f****** run for the hills."
While the MMA world might not witness Adesanya in the immediate future, his presence and potential return promise to be a force to be reckoned with.