The Severe Spotlight: Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya is a man that emanates to the world that he is Player One in his game of life. He portrays that there is a mandate for himself, by himself, that he controls and brings into existence that which he wants. The undertone to that is an insecurity. An insecurity that meanders its way deep through the rivers of a man’s soul of seeking control, of seeking acceptance. Israel Adesanya finds his acceptance in gold belts and fan fervour, coming into Saturday night, that had been stripped of him.

The performance on Saturday shows parts of the true character of Israel Adesanya. He is a man most dangerous when he is chasing something, when his back is against the wall, when he is the underdog, when the world is chattering about his flaws or his potential misgivings. Mentally unhealth or otherwise, that’s when The Last Stylebender comes alive.

Right away Adesanya takes centre cage. The storyline that played out over the first five minutes was one of confident focus. The usual repertoire of feints were there for Adesanya, but what came after it was shifted up by a gear or two. He does not allow a low kick to land without returning, no jab goes unmatched.

The first thirty seconds saw Israel keep centre cage, stalking Pereira welcoming him to the fight with a stiff jab and a lashing belt of a low kick. The gamesmanship, the play aspect to Israel is always ultra impressive, no more so than after that exchange, Pereira rushes forward to get his revenge, as Israel takes The Matrix out of the DVD case, slots it into the player and does his best Neo impression to avoid the low kick by timing a stance switch to avoid it.

Low kicks fly in from both men as the round progresses. But one notable sequence highlights the level at which these fighters are operating at. Centre line and angle are discussed ad nauseum when it comes to striking of any discipline, but around 3:49 the millimetres of distance you have to play with is on show. Both men are fighting for angle, Pereira adopting a slightly squarer stance. He makes a slight misstep, maybe 5 inches, and in return Israel slams a baseball bat into Alex’s leg. The effect of this battle is that both men have to make minute adjustments, which effectively keeps them on the centre line, in the firing line for shots – limiting the defensive movements to purely head movement or medial foot movement.

The feints began to add up. The southpaw low leg drag along the floor had become low kicks and body kicks; Israel used the continual biting from Pereira to switch the placement to a question mark kick. The dexterity of product is beautiful and wonderful example of how even at the highest level, adopting a heavy feint game allows for a wide array of end products.

At 3:15 of the first, Israel finds himself backed up behind the tramlines for the first time in the fight. In the previous encounter, Israel accepted his back against the fence and retreated to a hand fight, this time he immediately used explosive forward movement to land shots, or to rotate back to the centre of the cage. Dominance.

Alex ups the pace with 15 seconds left in the first, landing a lovely jab and a low kick. As he chases Israel backwards, Israel has planted his feet and unleashes a wicked left body kick to gain himself space once again.

The second round couldn’t come fast enough for Adesanya as he bounds to the middle of the cage and plants yet another body kick into Pereira inside two seconds.

The sticky shots of Adesanya, a fundamental part of his game come into play in a big way in this second round. First making an appearance as he uses a right hand to post out into the field of vision of Pereira before lashing a whip of a low kick across the Brazilians thighs.

The same setup from southpaw as in round one, however this time what does he do? Another question mark kick. Frustration and doubt began to set in for Pereira, he is unsure as to what trap he is walking into when Adesanya is beginning his sequence of dragging the foot, is it a low kick, a body kick or now the question mark kick, having landed twice? Adesanya then waters the freshly sewn seeds of doubt with yet another variant, a stabbing low stomach teep to return Pereira out of the pocket.

The character of Pereira is embellished in the next sequence. He returns with a big right high kick, that brushes Izzy’s face. Sensing a momentum shift, he advances hard and Israel finds himself firmly behind the tramline for the second time. The scary the power of Poatan flushes through the cage – the focus spoken of in the corner of Izzy had to be paramount. Alex lands a left body kick, body jab right hand and an uppercut before Izzy managed to clinch, they both unleash huge shots from the clip, but both misses.

The finish tells me that that exchange spoke to Israel about Pereira’s increasing frustration and willingness to take risks and see’s the chance to take advantage.

Taking advantage means timing, and for the next few minutes Adesanya moves through riding the wave of Pereira’s aggression to pick him off. Jabs, uppercuts, body shots fly to find himself room in the ensuing rush of Poatan.

1:50; yet again the “sticky shots” on show. Pereira stalks and Izzy throws a left hand, but leaves it in the face of Alex as he brings the right hand through along with his body. Izzy circling faster than Alex gets a minute angle and lands two body shots and a right hand up top to get him back to the centre.

The end sequence comes from a left body kick landing for Izzy as a piston right hand to the body screams back for Poatan. Adesanya takes another low kick and finds himself backed up against the fence, covered up, Alex smells a finish.

He unleashes two thudding jabs to the gloves, a clean right hook to the body, a knee which lands to the temple area that forces Israel to dip. The left hook that’s left the chamber from Pereira is seen by Adesanya, and he has used the reaction from the knee to begin a gargantuan core rotation, and slams a right hand into Alex. Stunned he attempts to turn back in but the finishing right hand from Adesanya has had its coordinates set for the temple of Pereira and left the missile silo. A perfect connection puts Pereira crushed on the canvas. A single coffin nail, and referee Dan Miragliotta is left picking three arrows from the fallen Brazilian soldier.

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