Chael Sonnen has given his take on the superstar status of Israel Adesanya post-UFC 236, predicting that his next fight will break every live-gate record in the book.
It seems like an outlandish claim to make so soon after Adesanya’s interim-title-winning performance over the weekend but despite the sensational manner in which he phrased his claim, Chael certainly comes through with some solid points about the inevitable clash between Stylebender and champion Robert Whittaker.
“Whittaker and Adesanya are going to break every live-gate record in the history of the sport. They will do more people in the building but they will also do it for a higher ticket price – which is going to break the gate record.
“Right now it’s Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden. $17.2 million.
“I believe that there isn’t a building big enough that Dana White can go and reserve in Australia that he cannot fill up. I do not believe there is a building resurrected out of brick and mortar that he could book and have an empty seat.
“The question then becomes, how much can you sell those tickets for? Cause we saw a really big fight over there, Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm. I think 40,000 people showed up – off the top of my head. Maybe even a little bit north of that. But the gate was very low.
“Ronda and Holly did not belong fighting in Australia. That was just a huge fight for the sport that happened to take place in Australia.
“Now you’ve got some homers. Now you’ve got Adesanya vs. Whittaker, they’ve both got a belt, there’s a lot on the line. They’re both from New Zealand but Whittaker lives in Australia.
“Adesanya has already laid the ground-work: ‘You are no longer New Zealand, you turned your back on us. You now live in Australia, you are now the enemy.’
“Guys you accept that or not, I don’t give a damn, but as far as storylines go in that part of the world, that is huge! That is a really big deal.”
From there, Sonnen moves on to push his overall point, that the surging middleweight force is well on his way to become a global icon – and right now, is the biggest seller in the game.
It’s a huge suggestion to make – one that comes straight out of the leftfield but again, Chael spoke passionately in his point’s defense.
“In addition, Adesanya becomes the biggest star in the UFC. And before anyone pushes back, Conor McGregor does not have a license, Khabib does not have a license, Brock Lesnar takes on a part-time schedule, Jon Jones is having a very hard time selling right now and was never the draw that many of you argue that he is.
“Point being, it is Adesanya.
“As of right now, he’s where Jon was early in his career. There are five, six, or seven guys that, no matter how you put them in there, people are going to be compelling to watch. So not only will his next fight break every live-gate record there is, should he win that fight, he will go on to be a PPV star in addition to that.
“I would argue for you that Adesanya is now the biggest star in the UFC. He would do a bigger gate head-to-head than anyone who is eligible and has a license right now.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena