Israel Adesanya 'bigger than the All Blacks'

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Sports commentator Nathan Rarere says  UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya is “bigger” than the All Blacks right now, something Adesanya has himself asserted as he prepares to defend his title at UFC 253. 

“I know if you put it on the world stage, me myself as Israel Adesanya 'The Last Stylebende,r' I'm bigger than the All Blacks, worldwide,” he said.

Rarere said he agrees with that bold proclamation, simply because the sport that he is in has a bigger reach than rugby. 

"He’s a bigger world star than the All Blacks at the moment.

“Mixed martial arts has a bigger reach around the world, especially in the African continent - so you've got entire nations there in Africa saying, 'he’s one of ours'.”

Good looks and skills

The Nigerian born, New Zealand-raised fighter is undefeated in the UFC, with 19 wins, and is training in what some have dubbed as a "marae-style" lockdown along with other Kiwi fighters including Kai Kara-France, Dan Hooker and Shane Young. 

Rarere says it's not just his fighting in the ring that puts Adesanya on an international pedestal but the entire persona he has created in his two years in the UFC. 

"He comes with personality, he comes with good looks, but his skill and his movement and accuracy is so entertaining," he says.

They either completely love him, or they want to see him get a hiding, and if you are trying to sell tickets to a fight, that's what you need to have."