It was over before it started.
Israel Adesanya reclaimed his UFC 281 belt from Alex Pereira on Sunday morning within two rounds.
The ‘Last Stylebender’ lost it last November in a shocking fifth round technical knockout loss to Pereira inside Madison Square Garden.
“I’ll be back, it’s not over yet,” Adesanya warned afterwards.
All it took was one fierce punch from the Nigerian-born fighter.
“While we can consider his performative routine to get into gear, I’d like to think he reevaluated his attitudinal approach to the fight.
“While we can’t take the ego out of the sport which fuels confidence in the athlete, I think Izzy went in with some level headedness which equally made a difference,” Telema Davies, Strategy Consultant and Coordinating Secretary, Sport Nigeria LTD/GTE, tells DAILY POST.
Within the four months, ‘Izzy’ took time out to prepare for the fight, he appeared to go off the radar, especially with Nigerians.
The buzz that surrounded him, Kamaru Usman and Anthony Joshua seemed to have disappeared like vapour.
“Except supported by research data, it’s difficult to say there’s apathy among Nigerians,” Davies explained.
He added: “We love to win. It’s not a Nigerian consideration; it’s human. No one likes to lose, really.
“But it’s a recurring event in human relations. Once we can lose the short-term mindset, we’ll have a better appreciation for process development and ease the thinking of win-at-all cost.
“That said, interest in MMA generally (not just UFC, One Championship etc.) among Nigerians is still growing.
“We’re not a Class A, B or C market even though we boast of world-class exports in the sport, there’s an opportunity to leverage the star power of Izzy and Kamaru to grow the sport and participation.”
Adesanya now has to stay on the upward trajectory to finish with a befitting legacy in the MMA.
What next for him?
“I’m aware he has a fight in November but the contender isn’t decided yet.
“So what should be his next move until November? While we truly can’t claim ‘ownership’ of Izzy’s rise to fame and stardom, we can, like I said, leverage the opportunity to increase interest in the sport with focus on infrastructure and facilities, as well as capacity development through which participation increases and would introduce Nigeria as a destination market,” Davies added.