Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight Israel Adesanya is set to take on veteran Brad Tavares on July 6 as part of “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale.
The 28 year-old Nigerian-born New Zealander is one of the UFC’s brightest talents and fans have already drawn comparisons to former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones due to his style and build.
After securing a hard-fought split decision victory in his last bout against Marvin Vettori, Adesanya accepted a bout against UFC veteran Tavares, who’s been a perennial top talent fighting in the middleweight division for eight years.
Adesanya is undefeated in MMA (13-0 and 2-0 in the UFC) and has 12 knockouts in his 13 wins. He’ll look to continue to build his reputation inside the Octagon with a big win over the Hawaiian come July.
“We can still do a highlight against Brad and we can still showcase against him,” Adesanya told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It’s no problem.”
Tavares is 17-4 in his MMA career and is riding a four-fight winning streak. However, Adesanya doesn’t believe Tavares is necessarily better than his previous opponent.
“Brad, I think is gonna be easier than my last opponent, just because I’ve seen that style so many times,” Adesanya said. “I’ve read that stuff so many times. That’s nothing to me. My last opponent, Marvin Vettori, was an awkward, weird southpaw and I was able to read things on the fly with him. Brad, I’ve seen that style many, many times, so it’s going to be easier to read this book.”
Adesanya has admitted he struggled to deal with Vettori, who absorbed all his big shots he’s used to finishing guys with and kept coming forward. Although “The Last Stylebender” is confident he’ll have an easier time dealing with Tavares, who will be more open to finishes.
“Look at Brad, the way he’s fought,” said Adesanya, who has also been a standout professional kickboxer. “His last fight was his first finish in seven years. His chin isn’t as durable as Marvin. I don’t like to say things like that, because no one has a chin. Everyone has a button, it’s just how you can find that button. His button, his style with his stance, is easier to find than Marvin’s button.
“I’ll give it less than three rounds. Less than three rounds. The way he likes to throw, he’s from Hawaii. He’s a heavy guy when he throws. He’s a scrapper. So, we could scrap.”
Tavares’ status in the UFC will mean it’s the most significant matchup for Adesanya to date but is convinced he’ll have his hand raised on the night.
“It’s hard to keep feeding me guys that aren’t in the same kind of echelon as me, which I don’t really feel like there is yet,” Adesanya said. “Brad is a good fight, good test. It’ll be my toughest test to date. I’ll get past him and move forward.”
Adesanya told Helwani the UFC has been “cool as f*ck” to him but agrees with other fighters that they deserve a fairer wage considering what is required to be a professional fighter.
“I feel like MMA athletes are the best athletes in the world,” Adesanya said. “The amount of work we have to do to get to that Octagon, we should be getting paid what we’re worth. Some of these (soccer)players are getting paid f*cking hundreds of thousands a week. That’s because football has been around for years. Basketball players or gridiron players. And they can’t do what we do. … It would be nice if the pie was shared evenly across the field.”