SALT LAKE CITY — Israel Adesanya is focused on overtaking Anderson Silva as the greatest middleweight in MMA history, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of the UFC champions switch categories. weight.

Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) has never lost a fight in his career at 185 pounds. The only blemish on his resume came in a light heavyweight contest when he fell short of becoming a two-division champion against then-champion titleholder Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in March 2021.

Although his previous attempt at a weight increase didn’t go as planned, Adesanya’s manager Tim Simpson, who is the vice president of MMA for Paradigm Sports, said there was a good chance that another division change to occur.

In fact, Simpson believes his client could not only move up one weight class, but reinforced Adesanya’s previous notion that he could move up two and fight at heavyweight.

“He mentioned he wanted to go back to 205,” Simpson told MMA Junkie. “Obviously the last time he failed. But I think he would be very comfortable in this division again if that’s what he wants to do. It’s really up to him and Eugene (Bareman) athletically. But I think he has some business he wants to take care of at 185 first. He says he wants to fight everyone from his era in that weight class, which he almost did.

“He wants to become the best ever in this division, and he has the opportunity to stay there and keep fighting. But the door is open to light heavyweight, even heavyweight. success at heavyweight in kickboxing.

Before any additional energy is poured into the possibility of progress, Adesanya already has an exciting challenge in the form of a UFC 281 title defense against Alex Pereira. The Brazilian is a unique test as he already holds two wins over ‘The Last Stylebender’ in the kickboxing ring.

It was a quick climb up the rankings for Pereira, who earned a title shot with a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276. It was not personal for Adesanya.

“I believe him when he said he made peace with what happened,” Simpson said. “It’s easy to get frustrated with how the second one ended. When you watch the first fight, he won the first fight. It was a terrible decision. He won that fight the first time. Then the second he won round 1, a 10-8 in round 2, he won round 3 and got caught – fair play to Alex. I think in his heart, it’s not like, ‘This guy is better than me.’ He lost both fights, but I don’t think there’s a chip on his shoulder about this guy. He wants to settle this, certainly keep his mouth shut, but it’s not something that’s been eating away at him for years, like ‘I have to get Pereira back’. He was happy never to fight Pereira.

If Adesanya is able to beat Pereira and register a sixth straight title defense, Simpson said he’s already seeing a few possible opponents at 185 pounds.

“Obviously the Pereira fight is significant for the backstory they had in another sport, and there are a few other guys who have been real stalwarts at middleweight that he wants on his resume as well. “Simpson said. “I know he wants to do that Strickland fight. I know he wants to fight Jack Hermansson, who has been consistently top five for the past five years. There are other names at middleweight.

Although Adesanya received heat from fans for a disappointing fight with Jared Cannonier in his last title defense at UFC 276 in July, Simpson said the current champion is still one of the biggest stars in the game. sport.

Adesanya is becoming a name that offers opportunities beyond just stepping into the octagon to fight, and Simpson only expects this stardom to flourish in the future.

“He transcended MMA,” Simpson said. “He did it a few years ago, to be fair, but there are huge business opportunities. He has a long history of working with major sponsors and first class partners. There were opportunities in Hollywood that we had to turn down based on the schedule. He’s the most wanted guy outside of Conor and really leading the charge in this sport for notoriety, for star power, and that’s a credit to him and his personality and everything he’s built. He turns everything he does into gold.

“He can be a brand ambassador for anyone. He’s great in front of the camera. He treats people really well. People love working with him. He treats everyone with respect, he treats everyone well, and he’s a guy who’s always going to grow into star power, anyway, just naturally from his own natural charisma. And of course, what he does athletically also drives it.