Israel Adesanya opens up on decision to take UFC hiatus: “I missed the beast”

By Josh Evanoff - January 8, 2024

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya felt that he badly needed time off after his last fight.

Israel Adesanya training

‘The Last Stylebender’ has been out of the octagon since a clash with Sean Strickland last September. Fighting in Australia in the main event of UFC 293, Israel Adesanya approached the title defense as any other. The normally-active middleweight had famously re-captured the title from Alex Pereira just months prior, by knockout.

Despite entering the bout with ‘Tarzan’ a massive betting favorite, Israel Adesanya was upset. In round one, the challenger scored a shocking knockdown, and he never let up from there. After five rounds of action, Strickland was crowned the new middleweight champion. For Adesanya, there were many questions on what was next.

However, it turned out that a long-needed hiatus was what was next. Over the last few months, Israel Adesanya has had only a few media appearances discussing his time away from the cage. In those, he’s teased both that he would return in 2027, and also that his return isn’t far away.

Regardless of when ‘The Last Stylebender’ returns, he’s happy about his decision to step away. Speaking to Teddy Atlas in an interview on his YouTube channel, Israel Adesanya discussed his hiatus in length. There, the middleweight great stated that his activity and injuries obviously played a role.

However, Adesanya also added that he stepped away from fighting for largely mental reasons. While he feels that he could return already in top form, the former champion admittedly needed to get his head right.


Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya addresses the decision to step away from fighting after loss

“I had my headphones in and I started shadowboxing. I’m looking in the mirror and I caught myself because I don’t realize I’m in it. Then I start looking in my eyes and I can see my jaw clinch, and it’s like ‘F*ck, I missed the beast’.” Israel Adesanya stated on his YouTube channel, discussing a recent return to training. “Even just talking to you now, I’m almost perspiring. Not just the heat, but I’m getting excited about the fight.”

He continued, “…I can feel it now. I said I was taking a break right, when I said that, people were responding to me like, I’m not dying. I’m still here, I’m not retiring, I’m here, I’m just taking a little break. Look, four fights in the last fourteen months as champion, active. Also, I have some things I need to fix. Me and [Alexander Volkanovski], we’re the two most active champions in UFC history.”

“… I missed the beast. I know it’s there, but just chill, and put it in the stable for now. Just work, and I’ll help my teammates when I get back home and whatnot. But, it’ll get to the point when I come back, I can’t wait to unleash it again. But in the meantime, patience.”

What do you make of these comments? When do you think Israel Adesanya will return to the octagon?


Israel Adesanya UFC