Israel Adesanya’s manager Tim Simpson believes the UFC middleweight champion is ready to make the move up to the heavyweight division of the sport.
“He’s mentioned he wants to go back up to 205. Obviously, the last time he came up short. But I think he would be very comfortable in that division again if that’s what he wants to do,” Simpson told MMA Junkie.
“It’s really up to him and Eugene [Bareman, Adesanya’s head coach at City Kickboxing] on the athletic side. But I think he has business he wants to attend to at 185 first. He says he wants to fight everybody of his era in that weight class, which he almost has done.
“He wants to go down as the greatest of all time in that division, and there’s opportunity to stay there and keep fighting. But the door’s open to light heavyweight, even heavyweight. He’s had success at heavyweight in kickboxing, too.”
However, before making such a move, Adesanya has to get through Alex Pereira at UFC 281. Back when Adesanya was fighting for glory kickboxing, he lost to Pereira, twice. The second loss was a devastating knockout, and Adesanya’s last before he moved into MMA. Tim Simpson believes that Adesanya is at peace with those losses.
“I believe him when he said he made peace with what happened,” Simpson said
“It’s easy to be frustrated with the way the second one ended. When you watch the first fight, he won the first fight. It was a terrible decision. He won that fight the first time.
“Then the second one, he won Round 1, a 10-8 in Round 2, he was winning Round 3 and got caught – fair play to Alex. I think in his heart, it’s not like, ‘That guy’s better than me.’ He did lose both fights, but I don’t feel there’s a chip on his shoulder about this guy.
“He wants to settle it, certainly shut some mouths, but it’s not something that’s been eating at him for years, like, ‘I’ve got to get Pereira back.’ He was happy never fighting Pereira.”