UFC 221 Newcomer Breakdown: Israel Adesanya

Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at Nigerian striker Israel Adesanya as he makes his UFC debut against Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.

Israel “The Stylebender” Adesanya

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand
Age: 28
Height: 6’3”
Reach: 80”
Weight Class: Middleweight
Camp: City Kickboxing
Career Record: 11-0
Key Wins: Melvin Guillard
Key Losses: None


The undefeated MMA fighter is one of the best striking prospects in MMA having won all eleven of his bouts by knockout. He also has 55 kickboxing fights under his name holding a 50-5 record beating the likes Yousri Belgaroui and Bogdan Stoica.


  • Really long for the weight class
  • Composed striker
  • Fights with a lot of confidence
  • Strikes from unorthodox angles
  • Heavy use of kicks
  • Strength is underrated


  • Rarely been challenged in MMA
  • Poor takedown defense
  • Limited ground game

Fighter Grade

Offensive Striking: A
Striking Defense: C
Knockout Power: C+
Athleticism / Speed: B
Footwork: C
Chin: C-
Offensive Wrestling: D
Takedown Defense: D-
Submissions: F
Conditioning: D+
Intangibles: C-

Overall Grade: C-

Matchup with Rob Wilkinson

In “The Stylebender’s” UFC debut he takes on Australian Rob Wilkinson. This is one of the more exciting debuts for the Las Vegas-based promotion in years. Israel Adesanya is a world ranked kickboxier and has been a contender in Glory Kickboxing for several years. Wilkinson is no match for the composed, technical, and striking variety that Adesanya is able to provide on the feet. On the mat, it is a different story. Wilkinson has six submissions to his name and just how well The Stylebender can prevent takedowns and limit submission attempts is a real mystery at this point. The world class kickboxer is a -300 favorite in this bout. While I can certainly understand why he’s the favorite, it’s simply hard to be confident in a fighter at this price who has never been challenged in a MMA cage. Wilkinson is the most well-rounded fighter he has faced thus far and has the ability to present new challenges. With that said, Adesanya’s size, speed, and talent should rise through. He’s won all 11 of his bouts by knockout and this should be no different. Expect Adesanya to have go through a little bit of adversity before earning yet another knockout win. If looking to back Adesanya, wait for the knockout prop to release for a little more of a price break than the moneyline.

UFC Ceiling

Israel Adesanya is an exciting addition to the middleweight division. He’s still just 28 years old and from a physical standpoint really looks the size and part of a potential elite fighter in this weight class. His striking ability is as good as anyone currently in the division. In a prolonged striking exchange, he could potentially beat anyone. How good Adesanya will be in the UFC will come down to just how much he learns in the grappling and submission areas. If he can stuff takedowns consistently and force opponents into striking matches, he can easily be a top 15 middleweight if not better. 

Fight Film

Check out Israel Adesanya in some of his most recent fights:

Israel Adesanya vs. Stu Dare

Israel Adesanya vs. Melvin Guillard

Written by Jay Primetown

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