Israel Adesanya is all set to challenge Kelvin Gastelum for the interim UFC middleweight championship at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on 13th June. The fight will serve as a co-main event for Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier.
Going into the fight, Phil Murphy of ESPN released footage dating back to 2015 where a young Israel Adesanya can be seen sparring Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson who was preparing to fight UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 189 at the Blackzilian gym which is located in South Florida.
Adesanya was flown out to Blackzilians from New Zealand by Coach Henri Hooft to emulate the fighting style of Jon Jones. At that time Israel had a professional Mixed Martial Arts record of 3-0.
before UFC 187, @bokamotoESPN and I flew to Blackzilians for a story on Rumble Johnson. at the time, he was prepping to fight Jon Jones
Henri Hooft flew out this kid (3-0 MMA) from New Zealand to mimick Jon in sparring sessions
— Phil Murphy (@Phil_Sports) April 11, 2019
He can be seen holding his own and doing extremely well against Johnson in the sparring session despite neither fighter fully pressing the gas tank. It was pretty clear that it was light-hearted sparring.
Since then Adesanya has come a long way and is fighting Kelvin Gastelum for the interim title. He has since amassed a UFC record of 5-0 defeating Rob Wilkinson by TKO, then beating Marvin Vettori and Brad Tavares via unanimous decision and then knocking out middleweight contender Derek Brunson.
His most recent win came against MMA legend Anderson Silva at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia.