The Legend of The Last StyleBender

Bending is the belief that you can control (or bend) one of the elements around you at your will through great training. learning and refining of your spirit and technique, be it Water, Earth (stone and dirt), Fire and Air.

The Avatar can control all of these elements at once and is unique in their ability to do so. Similar to the modern day Mixed Martial Artist who can manipulate their various skills and techniques to be victorious.

Israel Adesanya is one such fighter. A man of many words, with much meaning and one desire – Be the best at everything.

Credit: Glory Sports International – Israel “Style Bender” Adesanya

#TheUW – Thanks heaps for the catch up Iz, I know that your a busy man! Tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your background in life and fighting. 

A lot to say there, but I am just a man on a mission. I started fighting in 2008, I still feel like I’m just starting though.

I’m passionate about a few things, but I just love living with no limits and stay a child at heart.

#TheUW – You’ve been in the fight game for around 7 years but you’ve amassed a huge number of fights, a lot half-way around the world in China! What was it like fighting over there to full stadiums of biased Chinese supporters? What do you think you learned from their huge scene over their? 

For me, China prepared me for whats to come. He big time!

15,000 people is the biggest I’ve done so far. Having hundreds of people wanting a photo after fights, the whole time over there was a learning experience.

Like an apprenticeship before I step into the world and own it. I was very grateful for it.

#TheUW – What was the oddest thing you ever experienced over there? 

My first loss.

Because we both knew who won the fight. Simon knew it.

If I ever get my ass kicked I’d acknowledge it. But the fact that I felt I owned him and he still got the win bothered me for a bit.

I’ll take him out next time.

 #TheUW – You’re the current King In The Ring at 86kgs and won your last 2 fights on the night with a KO and beautiful step in knee to finish the final fight with a TKO and take the title. How did that feel to get that win at home in NZ? 

That was my big New Zealand ‘coming out party’!

I was able to just flow that night, show people what martial arts was about when you dedicate yourself to the game.

To do it at home was a blessing man, I just soaked up the atmosphere, the moment, and did what I said I would do and proclaimed for weeks (before hand).

(I) Shut a lot of people up that night 🙂 [laughs].

#TheUW – There’s a big push on social media at the moment to get you onto the Super8 Boxing Event as a wildcard #stylezforsuper8 – how did that get started? Do you think you can follow in the footsteps of Antz Nansen and take another boxing event out for the team kickboxing? 

It started off as a Facebook status I wrote when having breckie one morning.

I am a martial artist, boxing is a martial art.

I always want to challenge myself at the highest level; I can’t become stagnant in this game; I must always evolve.

If Antz can do it, I can do better!

I’m coming for crown of the Super 8.

Credit: Super 8

*Since the interview Iz was successful in his bid to be the wildcard for Super 8 – November 22 at North Shore Events Centre – Congrats!

#TheUW – You fought very recently in Australia at Destiny 3, a Muay Thai event. What has the camp for that been like? Is jet lag a factor when you’re going over to Aussie?

I just got back from that and won by KO in round 2.

I’m always in camp. Always in shape.

That was my 6th fight in 2 months so I was super ready.

Jet lag ain’t nothing when you fly business class [laughs]!. I enjoyed my time in Brisbane and the Gold Coast a lot!

#TheUW – Weight-cuts have been news recently with some of the highest level MMA fighters in the world missing weight and been pulled off cards for endangering their health in an attempt to make weight. What are your thoughts on the practice? How big (roughly) might an average cut be for you? 

That’s the hot topic right now!

I prefer to not cut too much weight because at some point when you try to be the biggest in your weight class, you take energy away from your other attributes like stats in a video game.

Some guys are able to do it successfuly and some aren’t.

For me, I cut max 2.5kgs of water-weight if I ever need to and I stay dehydrated for as little as possible.

The Super 8 is at Boxing’s Cruiserweight and I am under the weight limit, but it bothers me not because at the end of the day it’s skills that pay the bills. I beleive in my skills and techniques enough not to fear a bigger man. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

#TheUW – It was announced last week that Mark Hunt is stepping into a UFC Interim Heavyweight Title fight in less than a month. Have you taken many fights on short notice?

What changes when you don’t have a full camp? 

Like I said I stay in shape, I’m ready to fight at a moments notice and I have in the past on an hours notice.

Mark taking that belt home will be HUGE for New Zealand.

Doing it at 40 years young is a great feat and the story of this man is inspirational!

*Full story about Mark Hunt

#TheUW – This has been a bumper year for kiwis internationally with locals Ev Ting, Luke Jumeau and Dan Hooker all getting exposure on various international stages and NZ’s first WMMA fighter to sign with Invicta Fighting Championship Faith “The Immortal” Van Duin making her debut in the US in December! What do you think all of these achievements does for the reality of being a professional MMA fighter for you and others like yourself here in New Zealand? What’s the grind like?

Its awesome to see our country on a world stage!

I’ve told people for yeeeeaaars that NZ has some scrappers and the support from New Zealand is finally starting to show.

Hopefully the next generation of NZ fighters wont have to do like we did and go overseas to look for opportunity. They will be able to get the best support and all they need in their backyard!

I see this game taking over NZ in the next few years. Fighting is just raw!!

Credit: Aotearoa MMA Expo

#TheUW – Tell us about your gym/s and training partners. What sort of stuff are you getting done in the gym every day and when you’re not in the gym for training, what is your escape?

We have a gym full of killers, different people from all walks of life.

I believe we have the best gym in NZ. Our coaches are students of the game and they constantly push us to our limits and that raises the bar every time!

They are next level and we are proving it one game at a time.

#TheUW – You’re a bit of a man of mystery as far as your MMA career goes and try as I might, I’ve not been able to track down a reliable official record for you. Can you set the record straight?

I’ve had 2 MMA fights and 2 1st round wins.

I will return to the cage soon.

I am currently focused on Kickboxing, but I love fighting, I never ever want to feel vulnerable in any situation combat-wise.

For example over 80% of street fights end up on the ground.

I’ve seen guys just freeze when they hit the ground, lack of the proper education on how to fight on the floor.

I like to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation like that!

#TheUW – You’re and incredibly talented man in the ring/cage and you’ve very charismatic both in and out of the ring/cage. It’s something that the New Zealand MMA and combat-sports scene really needs, especially from someone who can back it up so effectively. Where do you think that comes from? Mind-games? Mind-set? What do you say to any haters you may have?

I’m just being me.

You can ask my peers for years and they’ll tell you I’ve always said I was the best and I could beat all these guys.

Now people just see it more because I have more attention on me.

I just know how to play the game like I own it! At the end of the day we are human animals and peoples words can lie but their body won’t.

In a stressful situation an animal only has a few options.

To fight or flight, ignore or submit.

People will always tell you the truth without realizing. It has a lot to do with neuro-lingusitic programming.

#TheUW – You’re a proud kiwi and a proud Nigerian. Tell us about your roots in Africa and what it means to you. 

I tell people I’m The Black Kiwi.

The one with the biggest beak and biggest wings. The one that takes flight [laughs]!!

I love NZ, it’s my country.

I love my roots as a proud Nigerian.

But at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what patch of dirt I’m from. I just represent those who represents me.


 #TheUW – Well Iz, thank you for your time, any last words? 🙂

My man, thanks for putting me on homie! I had fun doing this.

Big shout out to Combat Kings, Stained Skin, FX Nutrition and Bow Fighters for their support of this man!

#TheUW – Chur! Catch Iz on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Catch me on twitter 🙂

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