“I pop a lot of s— cause I can back it up,” 50 Cent raps on Lil’ Kim’s song “Magic Stick.”
That lyric describes the 6-foot-4-inch Adonis known as Israel Adesanya, who weighed in at 183 pounds Friday morning, April 12, 2019, for his co-main event match against Kelvin Gastelum for the UFC interim middleweight title on Saturday evening at UFC 236 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Where do that swagger and confidence come from, considering Adesanya didn’t like the spotlight earlier in his career?
“Nigeria,” he responds matter-of-factly. “It’s just in the blood, honestly. Like you see guys, like [UFC welterweight champion and Nigerian-born] Kamaru [Usman] and other athletes and people that I know even. We’re never shy to let people know who we are or what we’re about. I don’t shy away from the spotlight. Whenever it’s on me, I shine brighter than the spotlight.”
Adesanya walked into his open workout, wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts, as a crowd of hundreds cheered and “Southern Hospitality” by Ludacris blared. It was appropriate because he wants to represent Atlanta and literally plans to “throw dem ‘bows” at his opponent Saturday. “I know about ATL through rap and through movies like ATL, through [the television show] “Atlanta,” Childish Gambino and just pop culture, so I got to show love to the A.”
If victorious, Adesanya plans to bring his gold title back to his home country. “Throughout history, they just keep taking and taking and taking from Africa, so it’s time me and Kamaru take gold back to Africa, and I just think it would be cool,” he said. “Imagine that: two young Nigerian boys who uprooted from Africa to look for a better way of living and then to go back to show the success we’ve had? I think that would be massive and inspire a lot of people.”
Adesanya shows his African pride by rocking his signature Afro pick in his hair during his walk to the cage. Don’t be surprised if you see Adesanya celebrating his victory at the world-famous Magic City strip club in Atlanta.