Can Israel Adesanya have another go at light heavyweight?

By andrewadmin  |  November 27, 2021  |  No Comments

Israel Adesanya is a tough fighter, is he not? After winning all of his 20 bouts, the middleweight champion took a shot at the light heavyweight against Jan Blachowicz in Las Vegas on March 6, 2021, but he fell just short of the Polish man. Blachowicz won on a unanimous decision 49-46, 49-45, 49-45 to hand Adesanya his first-ever MMA professional defeat.

Blachowicz eventually lost his claim on the light heavyweight championship, but not to Adesanya. Blachowicz couldn't handle all Glover Teixeira threw at him at UFC 267 on October 30, 2021, and he lost woefully by rear-naked choke submission in round 2. Teixeira was too tough for Blachowicz, and he ended things quite quickly at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Adesanya has fought since then, defeating Marvin Vettori in a rematch on June 12, 2021, on a unanimous decision at UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona. The judges scored the bout 50-45, 50-45, 50-45, and Adesanya retained his middleweight champion place.

They previously fought on April 14, 2018, and Adesanya defeated Vettori on a split decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.

Who should Adesanya fight next?

There have been talks of a rematch against Robert Whittaker targeted for UFC 271 on February 12, 2022. Adesanya previously beat Whittaker by knockout at UFC 243 on October 6, 2019, in Melbourne, Australia. The performance from Adesanya was the performance of the night, and Adesanya won and unified the UFC Middleweight Championship. Adesanya defeated Whittaker in style, knocking him out in round 2. The victory made Adesanya the undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion.

Whittaker has been finding a way to get a rematch against Adesanya since then, and it looks like he would have his chance in February. Nothing is signed yet, but they already have a verbal agreement.

Once Adesanya is done with that fight, he will be looking forward to another fight. Then, perhaps, he could have another shot at light heavyweight.

If he can beat Whittaker, the victory, alongside the one he won over Marvin Vettori, would fully restore his confidence before trying out light heavyweight yet again.

However, he may need to consider his choice of opponent. The Nigerian-born fighter may need to decide whether to have a rematch against Jan Blachowicz or have a go at current UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira. Adesanya could also fight against other light heavyweight fighters that are a little below Teixeira and Blachowicz in ranking. Since he defeated Blachowicz on submission, Teixeira is the champion, with the Polish man dropping to rank No. 1.

 

Potential opponents for Adesanya for Light Heavyweight

Ideally, Adesanya should challenge Teixeira and Blachowicz, but if they are too big for Adesanya at the moment, he could have a go at a fighter lower in the ranking than these top two. Below is a list of potential opponents for Adesanya for light heavyweight;

 

1. Jan Blachowicz:

The opponent Israel Adesanya will likely want to go against is Jan Blachowicz. He would most likely want a rematch against him. Blachowicz had a smooth victory against Adesanya when they first faced off, and the Nigerian-born fighter would want to do everything to grab revenge.

Blachowicz is a big UFC fighter who has been around since 2014. He has featured in 17 UFC fights, winning 11 and losing 6. His MMA record has not been bad, winning 28 and losing 9 of 37 fights.

Blachowicz became a big name in the light heavyweight division when he had a go at the vacant UFC light heavyweight championship against Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 on September 27, 2020. However, he ended up beating Reyes in round 2 on TKO. After that win, he defeated Israel Adesanya before surrendering the position to Glover Teixeira in October this year.

Blachowicz is most likely going to try to challenge Teixeira for the championship again. Still, he would not find a rematch against Adesanya as a bad option to prepare the ground ahead of the rematch against Teixeira.

If Adesanya is going to win this time, he may need to train harder. The manner in which Blachowicz defeated him the last time wasn't too good, and it will only cause significant damage to his career if he loses the second time against the Polish man.

 

2. Glover Teixeira

If Adesanya wants to dare a challenge, he could request a bout against Glover Teixeira. Teixeira is the current light heavyweight champion, and a win for Adesanya against him will see Adesanya become the new champion. But can it come easy? 

Teixeira has also been around in the UFC for a long time. He made his debut in 2012 and has featured in 21 fights since then, five of which have ended in losses.

Teixeira is not unbeatable for Adesanya if he really wants it, but it could be an overwhelming task for the current middleweight champion. But what makes a champion is his ability to dare what appears bigger than himself. Maybe that's what Adesanya needs.

 

3. Jiri Prochazka

If Adesanya wants an opponent that is lower in ranking, Jiri Prochazka could be his perfect target. The No. 2 light heavyweight rank last fought in May 2021, defeating two-time UFC Light Heavyweight championship challenger Dominick Reyes on a knockout in the second round with a spinning back elbow. 

He's yet to be scheduled for another fight, and he could agree to fight Adesanya next once the Nigerian-born New Zealand fight settles his upcoming bout with Whittaker. 

Prochazka could also fight an opponent before then, but it shouldn't stop Adesanya's challenge. The Czech man is also a tough guy, but he made his UFC debut recently. He's still pretty fresh in the UFC, fighting his first fight in July 2020. This could be an advantage for Adesanya in terms of experience in the UFC.

 

4. Aleksandar Rakic

Aleksandar Rakic has pretty recent experience in fighting. His MMA record shows that he's won 14 and lost two of his fights. 

He made his UFC debut in 2017 and has been a success since then, featuring in seven fights, losing only one. He last fought in March 2021, where he defeated Thiago Santos in a unanimous decision. He is ranked No. 3 on light heavyweight, and he doesn't have any fight scheduled in front of him. Adesanya could take this advantage to challenge him to give him a chance to challenge more prominent fighters like Teixeira and Blachowicz later.

Adesanya is a tough guy who seems to have conquered everything the middleweight championship is throwing at him. Hence, perhaps, one of the reasons he's looking for a new challenge. If he wants another chance at the light heavyweight, he could still have it, only that he has to choose his opponent wisely.

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