Israel Adesanya spoke in the aftermath of UFC 230 about how he had convinced UFC president Dana White to invest in his ‘masterplan’ but even now, with him set to face Anderson Silva at UFC 234, it’s still unclear what that might be.
To be honest, it’s one of those bouts that would look nothing short of sensational on paper if you weren’t invested in the fight-game enough to be aware of how completely past his prime Silva is.
And that is not a knock on the legend by any means, but at 43-years-old, do we really need to see one of the all-time greats fed to one of the most devastating finishers the division has to offer at present?
I already delved into why Anderson might like this matchup – despite previously claiming that he has no longing to test himself against the younger, faster, and more athletically dangerous fighters on the rise.
In short, it seems as though Silva is genuinely excited to have the opportunity to face someone who will take a similar approach to him in there – a technician who will stand on the outside and engage in something more akin to a violent game of chess.
But for Adesanya, the jury is still out on why this was the matchup he wanted.
Yes, fighting Anderson Silva at any point in his career will guarantee some serious exposure and a boost to your own status, but would adding the soon-to-be 44-year-old to your highlight-reel be a move that will truly paint you in the best light to the fans?
Nobody likes to see a legend getting brutally finished.
And, of course, it’s dangerous to discount the chance that Silva could spring the upset but for the purposes of this article, taking the assumption that Stylebender will win allows us to muse upon what exactly he is hoping to gain here.
Speaking to MMAFighting, Israel explained how he convinced UFC president Dana White to get onboard with his master-plan following his UFC 230 destruction of Derek Brunson – prior to his fight’s announcement.
“When I sit in front of someone, you can feel me, you can really understand what I’m saying, you can feel my passion. So, it’s different than doing it over the phone.
“Yeah, he’s on board with my plan now and he likes it. I sold him the idea. You guys wait till everything comes to fruition.
“If the other guy says yes – I should say when he says yes – I don’t know, but I feel like when he says yes, it’s gonna be historic, it’s gonna be something that you guys are gonna buzz over it.
“And then later on, what I have planned after that, that’s gonna be sick as well. So yeah, in due time everything will unfold.”
During an interview with Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour, Adesanya explained how the notion of fighting the legendary Brazilian, even now, is the ultimate clash of old and new – likening it to a (presumably) modern-day clash between LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
“This means more to me than the fucking world title. I’m getting choked up right now even thinking about it. Like honestly, this fucking means the world to me.
“UFC 90 was the first time I watched this guy fight live. Before that I was watching him on DVDs fucking murking dudes. This is like LeBron James getting to face Michael Jordan.”
So if we’re to assume that Adesanya’s masterplan was to face someone he has described in the past as something of a hero or idol, it’s also in some ways safe to assume that Stylebender’s plan is a selfish one.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being selfish in a game as individually driven in the fight business.
To be honest, though, it’s something of an odd call to make.
Yes, fighting someone like Jacare or Luke Rockhold would undoubtedly offer a tougher challenge with less to gain in terms of exposure in the eyes of the casual fans but if, for example, Adesanya goes out there and lands a perfect spinning back-kick on The Spider within seconds of the opening bell – are we really going to be that impressed?
Unfortunately, I really do have a feeling that we are going to be left with an empty feeling in our stomachs once the UFC 234 co-main event is through.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena