In a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Adesanya was tasked with singling out one matchup he wants to see from each division on MMA’s biggest stage, working up from 115 pounds.
After unintentionally suggesting a strawweight drop for Valentina Shevchenko, with brother David quickly reminding the champ which gold “Bullet” holds, Adesanya chose to provide a pairing for former two-time titleholder Rose Namajunas‘ return to action.
“Rose versus Mackenzie Dern. I’d like to see that,” Adesanya said. “Just styles, ’cause jiu-jitsu. I know Rose can rock jiu-jitsu, but striking, Rose might have her (Dern) on that. But that’s why I wanna see it.”
With “Thug Rose” recently expressing a desire to test her skills on the mats with a submission grappling contest before her UFC return, perhaps Adesanya will get his wish, just not in the Octagon.
Next, Adesanya looked to kill two birds with one stone by pairing the flyweight queen against the women’s bantamweight titleholder.
“Actually, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna cross. I’m gonna go Shevchenko — I wanna see her fight Amanda (Nunes) again,” Adesanya stated. “I feel like that — because I thought she had her the second time. I thought she did, yeah. Third time’s the charm. I like Shevchenko.”
Since the UFC 277 headliner late last month, the topic of Nunes’ next fight has been prevalent, with the debate seemingly pitting a pair of trilogies against one another. And like 85.1% of MMA News fans who participated in a recent poll, Adesanya favors Nunes vs. Shevchenko 3 over Nunes vs. Peña 3.
Moving on to the lightest of the Shelby-managed male divisions, Adesanya outlined a dream matchup for rising star “Sugar” Sean O’Malley. Like the bantamweight contender’s upcoming bout against #1-ranked contender Petr Yan, the Nigerian-New Zealander’s suggestion is a striker’s delight…
“I would like to see, actually, ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley versus… I wanna see him versus Cory Sandhagen. I like that fight, just ’cause they’re both tall, long for the weight class, and unorthodox with their striking.”
At featherweight, Adesanya did some matchmaking for Max Holloway, who, following a third loss to champion Alexander Volkanovski, has been left at somewhat of a crossroads in his career at 145 pounds.
“I’m gonna go Bryce Mitchell versus Max Holloway,” Adesanya suggested. “I like that, just ’cause Bryce Mitchell, best rapper in the UFC — it would be a cool fight. Max would just stay on the outside, pick him apart. But then Bryce, I did not expect him to drop (Edson) Barboza like he did.”
Rising to lightweight, which he pointed out is rightfully considered one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC, Adesanya pitched a blockbuster rematch of what was widely-branded 2021’s Fight of the Year.
“F*ck, any of these fights… If I want madness, (Justin) Gaethje versus… Maybe Gaethje versus (Michael) Chandler. Just ’cause violence. It’s already happened, but there’s so many (possible matchups), it’s crazy.”
Closing out his matchmaking help for Shelby, Adesanya turned to the division currently ran by his fellow African UFC titleholder, Kamaru Usman. Instead of suggesting a challenger for “The Nigerian Nightmare,” Adesanya put the welterweight king’s upcoming opponent against arguably the promotion’s fastest-rising star.
“I’d like to see Khamzat (Chimaev) versus Leon Edwards.”
Should “Rocky” dethrone Kamaru Usman at UFC 278 later this month, it stands to reason that “Borz” will be looking to represent Edwards’ first challenger.
Adesanya Assesses His Own Division, As Well As LHW & HW
As well as reducing Mick Maynard’s load by skipping the flyweight roster, Adesanya took the chance to promote his own upcoming bout at middleweight rather than pitching a new one.
“I wanna see Alex Pereira versus Israel Adesanya. I look forward to that fight. I never actually looked forward to that fight, wasn’t even caring about it. Now that it’s here, that’s the dream matchup,” Adesanya asserted.
Fortunately, Adesanya won’t be waiting long for that one to come to fruition. “The Last Stylebender” is set for his chance to avenge a pair of kickboxing losses to “Poatan” in the main event of UFC 281 at MSG on November 12.
Looking at another division he has a connection to, having previously challenged for gold there, Adesanya named the matchup he’d most like to see at light heavyweight, and it’s one that Europeans are no doubt eager to see down the line, too.
“Jiří (Procházka) versus Aleksandar Rakić.”
With the Austrian currently on the sidelines following an ACL tear last time out against Jan Blachowicz, Adesanya will be waiting some time before seeing “Rocket” sharing the cage with the Czech champ.
Culminating his matchmaking trip through the UFC’s divisions, Adesanya paired together two Europeans who have been branded the new generation of heavyweights by many courtesy of their speed and agility.
“I wanna see Tom Aspinall versus Ciryl Gane. That’s the heavyweight fight I wanna see,” Adesanya said. “(Gane) still is, to me, the biggest threat to Francis (Ngannou). Then Francis handled him. I’m a fan of both guys, big fan of Ciryl. But Tom Aspinall is the guy. I like his style, so him versus Ciryl Gane would be a beautiful, athletic, intelligent heavyweight fight.”
While Aspinall is set for a spell on the sidelines following a knee injury suffered at UFC London, Gane is slated to return next month against Tai Tuivasa in the UFC Paris main event.
While a bout between the Frenchman and the Englishman is some way off at the moment, given their ages and likely long stays at the top, it’s certainly an inevitable matchup down the line.
What do you make of Israel Adesanya’s proposed pairings? Does he have a future in matchmaking following his in-cage career?