Home MMA NewsLatest News Chael Sonnen warns Conor McGregor that Israel Adesanya ‘coming for his spot’ as MMA’s top draw

Chael Sonnen warns Conor McGregor that Israel Adesanya ‘coming for his spot’ as MMA’s top draw

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Israel Adesanya's rise as top draw in MMA.

Chael Sonnen sends a warning to Conor McGregor about Israel Adesanya’s rise as the leading attraction in MMA.

Chael Sonnen expresses his immense admiration for Israel Adesanya. Adesanya made a significant impact in the world of MMA when he faced off against Dricus Du Plessis after Du Plessis defeated Robert Whittaker at UFC 290. Du Plessis’ victory over Whittaker, who had not been defeated by anyone other than Adesanya since 2014, positioned him as the next challenger for Adesanya’s UFC title. The intense post-fight exchange between these two African-born fighters became one of the most talked-about storylines following the highly anticipated UFC event of the year.

As someone familiar with promoting fights, Sonnen is fully invested in what the champion brings to the table.

“Looking at Adesanya, there were moments on Saturday that were unprecedented, not just in sports, but also on television,” Sonnen remarked during an episode of The MMA Hour on Monday. “I believe Adesanya stole the show. In my opinion, that event [UFC 290], which I thoroughly enjoyed, wouldn’t have had the same impact in history without Adesanya’s presence, even though he didn’t throw a single punch. I find that absolutely fascinating.”

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The rivalry between Adesanya and Du Plessis has grown increasingly heated, especially due to the exchange of inflammatory language and racial undertones witnessed at UFC 290.

Du Plessis initially caught Adesanya’s attention in March when he claimed to be “the African fighter in the UFC” based on his residency in South Africa. Du Plessis explained that both he and his teammate Cameron Saaiman breathe African air, wake up in Africa every day, train in Africa, and were born and raised in Africa. He clarified that he never claimed to be “more African” than Adesanya or previous African-born UFC champions Kamaru Usman and Francis Ngannou, as he was responding to questions regarding his comments.

Adesanya, however, took offense to Du Plessis’ remarks.

This rivalry has become so intense that the upcoming Adesanya vs. Du Plessis fight is expected to be one of the UFC’s most highly anticipated bouts in the latter half of 2023.

Sonnen believes that this clash could be the catalyst that propels Adesanya’s career to new heights.

“I have rarely seen someone like Adesanya, and I can only say that about a few others,” Sonnen declared. “I was present when Wanderlei Silva entered a room, and he had this inexplicable aura surrounding him. It happened to me once before in this sport when I first saw Royce Gracie, and there was a similar aura. I mention this because Izzy is playing a different game. And you know who should be paying attention to this? It’s not [Dricus] Du Plessis. It’s not the rest of the division. It’s Conor McGregor.

“Izzy is coming for Conor’s spot. Izzy is vying for the top draw position in this sport, and he’s not far from achieving it. By the way, he made that event for me. As a fight fan, I understand the significance of the interview, the walkout, and even the chosen entrance song. I am a fight fan, and sometimes when I’m driving in my car, I have to turn on the ESPN [feed] just so I don’t miss the fights.

“But what Adesanya did, the event wouldn’t be the same without him. I attended a bare-knuckle show a couple of months ago, and Conor McGregor made an appearance, which was a huge deal in terms of entertainment. Having something unexpected and unadvertised to look forward to, Conor’s presence was strongly felt and remained a topic of discussion in the media long after. That’s why I bring up Conor and Adesanya. Now I see that Izzy can play that same game, and he can play it very effectively.”

Sonnen is not bothered by any controversies surrounding Adesanya’s actions at UFC 290 and dismisses the criticisms from online detractors. He believes that any press, as long as it gets people talking and willing to pay $79.99 for the pay-per-view, is beneficial.

“I loved it,” Sonnen expressed. “I understand this might be a sensitive topic, and I’m not sure how the media will handle it or what you and I will do as this fight builds up. If these two fighters make it about who is more African, even differentiating based on the color of their skin, I’m out. It’s a topic you should avoid. I have been trained to steer clear of such landmines. I have a degree in sociology, and although there are limited applications for it, one of them is discussing race and ethnicity, which is literally what I studied. This was a significant moment.

“Please understand the gravity of this situation. You have the number one guy, a stalwart in our sport—Israel Adesanya will undoubtedly be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Adesanya is incredibly wealthy and holds the number one ranking. He is the rich and powerful figure. On the other hand, you have Du Plessis, who is an up-and-coming fighter. Du Plessis is seeking this contract to secure some financial stability for the first time. I’ve been in Du Plessis’ shoes, where people view you as the antagonist while you’re struggling to make ends meet.

“The wealthy guy came in and reprimanded the underdog, and it was captivating because Israel has always managed to maintain a connection with the common people,” Sonnen continued. “Despite his wealth, he still surrounds himself with a small, tight-knit group in New Zealand. Eugene Bareman, from a leadership standpoint, doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves.

“It’s a fascinating dynamic, and if you observe Izzy closely, you’ll see that he has this small circle. Regardless of his millions, he carries himself as someone who is resentful, believing that people are trying to take things away from him, not giving him the respect and recognition he deserves. But that mentality is what brought him here in the first place. It’s challenging to maintain that mindset when your life has changed so much. When you’ve already conquered that mountain, it becomes incredibly difficult. It almost requires forcing oneself. It’s a disciplined effort, and I see Adesanya doing it.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israel Adesanya’s rise as top draw in MMA.

Who is Chael Sonnen and what did he say about Israel Adesanya?

Chael Sonnen is a former MMA fighter and current MMA analyst. He expressed his admiration for Israel Adesanya, stating that Adesanya was the star of a recent UFC event and that he is a formidable threat to Conor McGregor’s status as the top draw in MMA.

What sparked the rivalry between Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis?

The rivalry between Adesanya and Du Plessis began when Du Plessis referred to himself as “the African fighter in the UFC” based on his residency in South Africa. Adesanya took offense to these comments, leading to a heated exchange between the two fighters.

Why does Chael Sonnen believe Israel Adesanya can reach the top draw status in MMA?

Sonnen believes that Adesanya’s recent performances and his ability to captivate audiences make him a potential top draw in MMA. He compares Adesanya’s impact to that of Conor McGregor, emphasizing the importance of Adesanya’s presence in making a fight event more exciting and memorable.

How does Chael Sonnen view the controversies surrounding Adesanya’s actions?

Sonnen is not concerned about the controversies surrounding Adesanya’s actions and believes that any press, even if it generates criticism, is beneficial as long as it gets people talking and interested in the fights. He states that he personally enjoyed Adesanya’s actions and is not bothered by online criticisms.

What is the significance of Chael Sonnen’s comments about Adesanya’s mindset?

Sonnen highlights Adesanya’s unique mindset, where despite his success and wealth, Adesanya maintains a connection with the common people. Sonnen acknowledges the challenges of maintaining such a mindset when one’s life has drastically changed and believes Adesanya’s ability to do so sets him apart and contributes to his success in the sport.

More about Israel Adesanya’s rise as top draw in MMA.

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