UFC 276: Exclusive interview with Israel Adesanya

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The biggest MMA showdown of 2022 is upon us. On Saturday, Stake's global ambassador Israel Adesanya squares off against Jared Cannonier.

We caught up the "The Last Stylebender" ahead of the fifth defence of his middleweight crown.

How is the fight going to play out?

“I'm going to f*ck him up. It's going to be bad. It's going to be a showcase.

"So I'm saying that right now, mark my words, save this tweet, save this interview, whoever is listening - come back to the comments and talk sh*t after I f*ck him up.”

Do you feel you have a point to prove?

“I like to prove people wrong. But what I like most is proving myself right.

"Everything I've said I was ever going to do before I even got in this game - I have done and then some.

"Proving people wrong is just like the icing on the cake, so I can watch them cry their salty tears.”

You said JC will be “easy work” - do you hold any fear factor?

“Fear is not a factor for me. I am about bettering myself, showcasing my skills, showcasing my martial arts and putting on a display the way I know how.

"I'm an artist and I really want to express myself on Jared come July 02."

Some fighters predict Cannonier's best chance is to be aggressive?

“I'd welcome that. Please for the love of god overwhelm me with your power, come out swinging. I'd really look forward to that.”

“It's easier said than done [coming forward] when you're in front of me and feel my energy and my presence. Like many have said before him - it's easier said than done.

"When you step in front of me you then realise who you are dealing with because then I can show you the real me.”

What is it going to feel like for Jared Cannonier to share the Octagon with you?

“It's something that can't be described, it can only be felt, and only a privileged few have been able to feel that presence from me.

"I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to feel my presence under those lights. It's a different story when you are on the biggest show of the year, I'm used to this.

"It's an acquired taste for me. It's something I've been doing for a long time. He's not used to this spotlight and he's going to melt under the heat. And melt under the heat of my energy as well.”

You said this fight will resemble Anderson Silva’s performance v Forrest Griffin - are you inviting pressure?

“Did you see my walk out for UFC 243? Fighters would never do that. Find another fighter who would do that.

"No one likes to put that kind of pressure on themselves. But I thrive under that pressure and thrive under that spotlight.

"And again, he's not used to this. He's not used to the amount of media he's going to have to do, he is not used to the amount of pressure or the amount of attention - it's draining for most people. But I thrive under these circumstances.”

Speaking of Silva - are you aiming to beat his title defence record?

"I don't look at those things. Numbers don't really matter to me when it comes to beating guys records - this is a different era, a different class of fighters. I don't chase numbers. The numbers chase me. So I've got to keep doing what I do and win in style."

Your next opponent could be either Sean Strickland or Alex Pereira who fight on your undercard - who wins?

"It's a pick 'em fight. Strickland is no joke. Alex had a nice lay up for this one. It depends on who shows up on the night."

Who poses you the most threat?

“Strickland [poses the most threat]. The Strickland fight definitely excites me. Strickland would be a good dance partner before and during the fight and I'm sure after the fight as well.

"But also Alex excites me because of the arc in that story. He's the only guy to knock me out at kickboxing.

"This generation forgets because we're the Tik Tok generation and they don't actually do their research.

"But if you look at those fights that we fought, we know who the more skilled fighter is and who the better fighter is. I don't call it a lucky shot.

"He just timed me right and got me on the day. But today is a new day.”

Do you want revenge for the Pereira defeat?

“I don't need revenge, I just want to f*ck this guy up who people think beat me.

"It's what I've always done; Costa, Romero, Robert, Bronson - everyone was talking shit before those fights saying this is the guy to beat me. And then what did I do?

"I f*cked them up, so let's just keep doing what I do.“

Your coach's mantra is to ‘celebrate the process more than winning’ - what does that mean?

"You have to stop and smell the roses once in a while and just enjoy the process. It got to the point when I was kickboxing where I'd always expect to win.

"And then I didn't even really enjoy that win. I just look for what's next.

"I look for the next thing and the next thing. So now later on in my career, especially MMA, I've just been enjoying the journey, and right now, I'm treating every fight like it's my last fight because I've learned that lesson too many times in life.

"We never know when it's our time. God forbid, you never know when it's your time to go, or something might happen that you can't fight anymore.

"So each fight, I treat it like it's the last fight I'm going to have. I'm just going to enjoy this last leg of my career.

"Really just soak everything, every moment - I even catch myself in camp soaking up different moments. It's about the journey. I'm really enjoying the journey."

How do you avoid over celebrating?

"I've been there before. It's just experience. I've been there when I've over celebrated and I've been there when I've just looked for what's next.

"It's just experience and every person is different. I know how to gauge myself and what I need to do post-fight."