UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya says we will never see him compete in New Zealand ever again, citing the maltreatment of MMA athletes and racism as two reasons why.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread changes everywhere in the world, and New Zealand is no different. Among these changes is the inability of Adesanya, Dan Hooker, and other native fighters to create a lockdown bubble to train for their upcoming fights.
Hooker will be competing tomorrow night at UFC 266 against Nasrat Haqparast on the preliminary card, but it has been a very trying experience for “The Hangman.” Aside from the US visa issues that Hooker managed to resolve right in the nick of time, he also had to overcome warnings from police regarding violations for congregating inside his team’s unofficial bubble.
Hooker’s close friend and the always vocal Israel Adesanya shared his thoughts on the way the country has been treating MMA compared to other sports during the pandemic, and he’s had enough.
“You will never see me fight in New Zealand ever again,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel.
“All that money, they can get it from somewhere else. Their rugbys, their crickets, and all the others they’re giving exemptions to, but you will never ever see me fight on these shores [again].
Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
“That was one of my dreams, to headline a stadium in my backyard. That dream’s dead in the water … that’s just the way I feel right now.”
Prior to competing in the UFC, Adesanya competed in New Zealand four times, including in his MMA debut. He has never had the opportunity to usher his graceful style of fighting into a New Zealand arena during his three-year UFC stint, however.
Adesanya also lashed out at journalists, who he accused of staking out Dan Hooker’s gym, Combat Academy, with the aim of reporting their activities to the police. The Kiwi wouldn’t be surprised if New Zealand bureaucrats treated him this way, as he is convinced the powers that be have their cloaked reasons for disliking him, but he wouldn’t expect Hooker to experience this treatment.
“He talks too much, he’s not humble enough, he doesn’t represent us Kiwis,” Adesanya mimicked people saying about him.
“They’re racists, some of them are f***ing racists,” he continues. “Of course they don’t want a black boy representing New Zealand. But you’re doing this to Dan ‘Hangman’ Hooker.”
The lack of humility description that Adesanya references dates back to a trope many have argued has historically been used disproportionately on black athletes. Thursday, Adesanya posted a tweet from where boxing great Muhammad Ali once took a Q&A audience member to task for this very reason after she claimed not to like him due to his “arrogance.”
“Relevant…please revise,” Adesanya said captioning the tweet.
Adesanya had hoped that his rematch with Robert Whittaker would take place in New Zealand, but complications linked to the pandemic stopped those hopes before they ever got off the ground. Now, even if it were all systems go for the fight to be held in the country, it looks as though The Last Style Bender would be the one to nip those plans in the bud.
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