His pre-fight drama with Brazil's Costa is 'most-watched UFC face-off of all time' The drama leading to the victory of Nigerian-born, New Zealand-based UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya against Brazil's Paulo Costa in Abu Dhabi about two weeks ago has been adjudged the most-watched UFC face-off of all time.
The Brazilian threw a white belt at Adesanya during a staredown, mocking the Nigerian's ground game; the champion caught it and whipped him back. It is now the most-watched UFC face-off of all time, revealed UFC president, Dana White.
Adesanya might not be the talk of the local bowls club just yet, but the UFC's freshest superstar is on the fast track to global stardom.
MMA is well established now as a major sport but those who manage to break into public consciousness away from fight circles are few and far between.
According to a report by dailymail.co.uk, Nigeria's Adesanya has all the ingredients to do just that and is tailor-made for the spotlight.
Everything about his scintillating win over Paulo Costa, and the not perfect week preceding it underlined that fact.
He was razor-sharp and hardly allowed Costa to land a blow before securing a TKO in the second round of the Fight Island showpiece itself. The powerful puncher was only a narrow underdog with the bookies but Adesanya's performance made a mockery of those odds.
The 31-year-old made a 'humping' motion behind Costa after the referee had waved it off, footage that has since enraged his opponent and divided opinion among fans.
Some believe he crossed the line, but others argue that the beaten man had it coming for all his own trash talk. He'd posted a mock video of Adesanya leaping out of the octagon to run away from him and another mocked-up image of himself holding the champion's severed head. All is fair in love and cage fighting.
For any sporting celebrity, especially in MMA or boxing, being quick with the keyboard is hugely important. Adesanya talks a good game, fights even better one, and rules over social media like few others.
His 3.6 million Instagram followers are privy to a combination of aspirational shots of Adesanya with his £500,000 McLaren supercar, training pictures, or footage of him dancing.
Adesanya competed in dance competitions across New Zealand when he was younger and the choreographed walk-out routine prior to his title win over Robert Whittaker went viral.
The waves Adesanya has been making were big enough to attract huge interest from major sportswear brands too. PUMA recently snapped him up in a landmark multi-year deal, and he is the first MMA fighter to sign with the company.
Adesanya will be the face of their Oceania division and is expected to play a major part in their global campaigns too.
“Not only is Israel a fearless and incredibly talented athlete, but his passion for dancing, fashion, anime, and his memorable personality makes him a standout individual to represent the brand,” PUMA's general manager of Oceania, Pancho Gutstein, said.