Former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is taking a break from MMA after losing his belt to Sean Strickland in September.
“I’m going to take time to look after myself, and I’m not going to fight for a long time,” Adesanya said earlier this week on “The Rock,” a New Zealand radio show. “I’m definitely not going to retire because I know me – I’m not leaving like that. I know me.
“But if I did, I’m fine. I don’t need to prove anything else. But I know what I can do, and I know what I can change in my lifestyle to make my body adapt to where I need to be. So I’m going to heal myself up. You won’t see me fight for a long time.”
Adesanya had been one of the most active UFC champions, having competed in five title fights since the start of 2022.
“The Last Stylebender” was defeated by Strickland via unanimous decision at UFC 293 last month. Just a few months prior, Adesanya reclaimed the 185-pound title by knocking out Alex Pereira in April. After five consecutive successful defenses during his first reign, the Nigerian-born New Zealander lost the title to Pereira in a fifth-round knockout loss in November.
Adesanya stated that being at the gym all the time caught up with him.
“It’s not just the fights, it’s the training and everything,” Adesanya said. “I had injuries going into the Pereira fight.”
Adesanya pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge in late September in New Zealand. The incident occurred Aug. 19, just weeks before the Strickland fight.
After Strickland beat Adesanya, UFC president Dana White said he wanted to book a rematch. But White said earlier this week the winner of the UFC 294 bout between Kamaru Usman and Khamzat Chimaev will get the next crack at Strickland instead.
Adesanya said he could’ve fought Strickland again but opted against it.
“When I come back, f—–g run for the hills,” Adesanya said.