In a recent video interview, UFC middleweight Sean Strickland made controversial remarks about Israel Adesanya, taking aim at his self-identification as “Chinese” while also claiming to be more “African” than fellow UFC middleweight Dricus Du Plessis. Strickland’s comments quickly ignited a heated discussion within the MMA community.
The video captured Strickland expressing his disbelief at Adesanya’s self-proclaimed identity, stating, “Is either Chinese, a true Chinese. They probably want to bring a real African back to the championship. And can you guys believe that he is that real when he says, look at the color of my skin, did that really happen? Is that real? Did he say the color of skin? Yeah. No, no, no. You know what I’m talking about.”
Strickland’s strong language continued as he referred to Adesanya using offensive terms and criticized his racial identity.
Israel Adesanya, who currently resides in New Zealand but is of Nigerian descent, initially gained recognition in the combat sports world through his kickboxing career. During a brief period, Adesanya represented China in kickboxing matches before transitioning to mixed martial arts.
Reflecting on his kickboxing days in China, Adesanya shared, “Those days made me the man I am today. 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.'” He further expressed his gratitude for the Chinese fans who embraced him, earning him the nickname “Black Dragon.”
Adesanya’s national identity and his connection to Africa have been subject to scrutiny in the past. Dricus Du Plessis previously raised questions about the authenticity of UFC champs like Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, and Francis Ngannou identifying as Africans. Du Plessis argued that their belts never made their way to Africa, prompting a debate about national representation in combat sports.
It is worth noting that Strickland himself has faced setbacks in his quest for a title shot. His loss to Alex Pereira via knockout derailed his chances, and he has since faced unranked opponents such as Imavov and is scheduled to headline against another unranked opponent, Abus Magomedov, this weekend. Despite being ranked at number 7 in his division, Strickland’s controversial comments have shifted attention away from his career.
Since 2014, Benny A. King has been fully immersed in the world of combat sports. Starting with a blog about Greco Roman wrestling, Benny’s passion for combat sports has led him to explore various disciplines.