Dana White: ‘Whole package’ Israel Adesanya proved he’s ‘the future’ with UFC 230 win

NEW YORK – UFC President Dana White sang Israel Adesanya’s praises following a standout performance Saturday night at UFC 230.

Adesanya (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) added to his impressive unbeaten streak when he stopped Derek Brunson (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) by first-round TKO in their middleweight matchup. The fight was thought to be the biggest test for “The Last Stylebender” so far, but he passed with flying colors by hurting Brunson multiple times before ending the contest in definitive fashion.

After making his octagon debut in February, Adesanya became the first fighter to go 4-0 under the UFC banner in 2018. He’s gaining momentum as a potential star for the promotion, and White made it clear he’s on board with that narrative.

“Israel is a guy who has been on the rise here for a minute,” White told reporters, including MMAjunkie, post-fight. “I really felt like tonight was his first big test. Obviously his opponent hits like a truck and wrestles really well. Madison Square Garden, opening the show, and man, did he deliver. Many people, including me, think this dude is the future. He went out and put a stamp on it tonight.”

UFC 230 took place at Madison Square Garden in New York. Adesanya vs. Brunson opened the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

White said Adesanya, who did good things in kickboxing prior to moving to MMA, was on his radar from the minute he was signed to the company. The matchup with Brunson was nothing short of spectacular, and at this point White said there’s everything to like about Adesanya.

“I literally cannot sit here and tell you enough good things about this kid,” White said. “I like this kid a lot. He came out tonight and put the stamp on it. He came out and looked really good tonight. If you look at how he did his other fights, he didn’t finish. He finished Derek Brunson tonight. It’s a big deal.

“The minute I saw this kid I was like, ‘Holy (expletive). This is really good. I like this.’ Then you hear him talk. I like that too. He’s the whole package.”

After his victory at UFC 230, Adesanya said he wants to fight the biggest names the middleweight division has to offer. He pitched the idea of being a backup fighter for the scheduled UFC 234 title fight between champ Robert Whittaker and challenger Kelvin Gastelum, but White didn’t seem all that eager to make it happen.

White has not denied certain fighters a quick rise up the ladder before, but in the case of Adesanya, he said he might need to reel in expectations for what’s next. White said he has big plans in store for him, though, and didn’t dismiss the idea of putting him back in the octagon sooner than later.

“He’s very ambitious,” White said. “I would like him to pump the breaks a little bit. This guy wants to fight (expletive) everybody right now, which I love. Listen, you want to become a big star: Keep fighting. If you’re a young guy who is healthy enough to fight all the time, I absolutely advise it. Do it.

“What you don’t want to do is come out, put on a great performance and disappear, because people forget really quickly. I like him very much. I don’t want to move him as fast as he wants to be moved. He and I will get together and find a happy medium.”

For complete coverage of UFC 230, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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