As Israel Adesanya remembers it, the choice to double down on his meteoric rise from former kickboxing star to unbeaten UFC champion by moving up in weight to challenge light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz on Saturday at UFC 259 was made for him by his coach, Eugene Bareman, a mere five months ago.
Adesanya (20-0) was but an hour faraway from dismantling unbeaten challenger Paulo Costa to make the second defense of his unified 185-pound title at UFC 253 when he was given instructions regarding the future during a car ride leaving from the hotel in Abu Dhabi .
“I’ll be honest and frank with you. Literally, on the thanks to the restaurant, my coach and everybody decided behind my back,” Adesanya told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Tuesday. “They all had a gathering and Eugene was like, ‘This is the best move to make, we think, we think.’
“I’ve said before, i am the canvas. I even have many artists who have had tons of labor put into me and that i need to consider their feelings, as well. When Eugene pitched the thought to me, i used to be a bit like , ‘You make sense, you make sense … it also makes dollars.