Israel Adesanya is one of the three African champions in the UFC right now. Adesanya is joined by Cameroon’s Francis Ngannou and fellow Nigerian transplant Kamaru Usman. The three seem to share a very close bond.
But unlike Ngannou who faced serious hardship in his life – things were substantially easier for Usman and even Adesanya.
While they both had financial hard times they always had a support system in place. Adesanya is also Nigerian however he resides in New Zealand and has resided there for ages.
But during a brief stint in his kickboxing career he actually represented the country of China.
Adesanya crossed over to MMA after a lucrative career consisting of a 5-1 run as a boxer and a 75-5 record in kick-boxing.
“Those days made me the man I am today,” he said then, and has repeated since. “I was out there in China, making my way. I was alone and I just said to them, ‘let me fight, I’ll fight whoever you want’.”
“It took me a while to adapt, you know,” he recalled. “But I settled in and I won the fans over. They took me to heart you know and they started to call me the Black Dragon and I started winning.
“I just kept getting in there, bam, week after week, month after month. You learn how to fight, how to get hit, how to be disappointed and how to bounce back.”
But Adesanya had struggled by the end of his career. The promoter had stopped offering him fights and he was struggling to make rent.
“I was just like check your phone, check your bank and I was like down to my last like 300. The company that I was working in China f—ed me over cause I had seven fights left in my contract, each fight at that time was like $25,000. And they just stopped giving me fights… So, I went to the UFC. Shout out to Engage though, they came in the clutch at that time… I wouldn’t have rent for either the next week or the week after.” Adesanya said.