From smoking weed with Snoop Dogg to surfing with Kelly Slater: Inside the life of ‘anime nerd’ UFC star Israel Adesanya – and why he’s so eager to get in the octagon with our best Aussie fighter
- UFC superstar Israel Adesanya says he plans to ‘f*** up’ Martin Vettori at UFC 263
- The Nigerian-born Kiwi says he was bullied at school for being an ‘anime nerd’
- UFC Middleweight Champion plans to fight Australian Robert Whittaker in NZ
- The 31-year-old says he ticked off bucket list smoking weed with Snoop Dogg
The Nigerian-born Kiwi and UFC Middleweight Champion has become one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts because of his unique personality, which he says is built from his obsession with Japanese animation.
‘I was just this nerd who likes cartoons and anime, now I use it as an expression to f*** grown men up,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
He has Australia’s greatest fighter Robert Whittaker in his sights and revealed the location for the Anzac superfight between the two champions will be at the famous Eden Park.
Adesanya will face Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 who he’s beaten in the past, but he says ‘that fight doesn’t exist’ and he has a stern warning for the Italian.
‘I’m just going to f*** him up.’
UFC superstar Israel Adesanya has gone from being bullied at his New Zealand school for being an ‘anime nerd’ to smoking weed with Snoop Dogg and surfing with Kelly Slater
Adesanya spends most of his time at home in Auckland – and wants to fight Australian nemesis Robert Whittaker at Eden Park (pictured with Aussie UFC star Alex Volkanovski)
Adesanya was born in Nigeria before moving to Auckland in New Zealand via Ghana when he was 10 years old.
He says he was often bullied at school for being a foreigner so he preferred to stay at home and watch Japanese anime – something that has shaped his fighting career.
‘It’s part of my character, part of my intrigue. I’m this nerd who loves cards and anime and now I use it to express myself in fights,’ the 31-year-old said.
‘I like blending the lines between fantasy and reality and making them seamless.’
The anime influences are evident in the UFC Middleweight Champion’s fighting style, with his unique grace and flair. He resembles a video game character.
‘If you watch my fights, even in my last fight there was a drunken fist in there. That was influenced by Jackie Chan.’
‘Smoking weed with Snoop Dogg at Staples Centre is definitely up there. The bigger I get, I kind of get used to it but that one was a weird bucket list item’
‘With Kelly, I caught two waves that day. I haven’t had time to surf since but I definitely will pick it up later in life’
Adesanya says he still spends the majority of his time at home in Auckland ‘hanging with his dogs and partying’.
The last time he fought in Australia was in 2019 against UFC legend Anderson Silva in a match that was a passing of the torch in the middleweight division.
Before the match there was a special moment where the two got to the floor to bow to each other, before trading spinning head kicks in succession during the match that brought the crowd to its feet.
‘That was some movie type s***. It was like when Kobe played Michael Jordan. It was the young guy coming up against the old legend,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
His superstardom has recently taken him to a series of ‘bucket list’ places where he’s found himself hanging out with Snoop Dogg and even surfing with Kelly Slater.
‘Smoking weed with Snoop Dogg at Staples Centre is definitely up there. The bigger I get, I kind of get used to it but that one was a weird bucket list item.
‘With Kelly, I caught two waves that day. I haven’t had time to surf since but I definitely will pick it up later in life.’
Adesanya vs Vettori headlines UFC 263 on June 13 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona from 12pm AEST.
Adesanya vs Vettori headlines UFC 263 on June 13 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona from 12pm AEST