<
>

UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya: 'I want to fight again this year'

play
Israel Adesanya addresses pectoral controversy (1:49)

Israel Adesanya responds to the controversy on social media about his right pectoral after his UFC 253 win over Paulo Costa. (1:49)

UFC fans might not have seen the last of Israel Adesanya in the Octagon in 2020.

The undefeated UFC middleweight champion told ESPN's Ariel Helwani in an interview posted Wednesday that he's hoping to compete once more this year. Adesanya is coming off a second-round TKO of Paulo Costa at UFC 253 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

"I want to fight this year," Adesanya said. "We'll talk [with the UFC]. We talked a little bit [Monday] night, but we'll talk some more. I can't say anything yet, but we've got some plans. I want to fight again this year."

Adesanya said he's "fresh" after a one-sided demolition of Costa. Adesanya, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in New Zealand, has stayed active in his three years with the UFC, fighting four times in 2018 and three times in 2019. If he fights again before 2021 -- in spite of the coronavirus pandemic -- that would make three fights this year, as well.

Regarding what those possible plans with the UFC are, though, Adesanya was tight-lipped. After beating Costa, Adesanya said he was interested in fighting contender Jared Cannonier, who would need to beat former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 for that to come to fruition. When asked about Cannonier in this interview, Adesanya was not as firm in wanting him as a challenger as he had been on Saturday.

"I can't tell you yet," Adesanya said of a possible opponent before year's end.

Adesanya also talked about the possibility of moving up to 205 pounds to compete for the light heavyweight title, which was vacated by Jon Jones and won by Jan Blachowicz on Saturday.

"Yeah, we like that fight with Jan," Adesanya said. "Also Cannonier, I'm still waiting for that. Everything is in the air right now. Let me chill.

"But I like 205. I'm the best 205er in the world, what can I say?"

Adesanya, 31, also addressed social media speculation about the swelling in his right pectoral muscle during the fight. Some suggested that it could be gynecomastia, a side effect of anabolic steroid use.

The UFC champion said he is not sure what the cause of the issue is, but he had two MRIs done, including one on his pituitary gland, as well as a blood test administered Tuesday in Las Vegas. Adesanya said his right pec was "a little bit tender" Tuesday.

"I've done my tests, and I'll wait for the results," Adesanya said.

When asked whether he had ever used steroids, Adesanya replied, "F--- no." The 100-fight combat sports veteran has been drug-tested 32 times by USADA, the UFC's anti-doping partner, since he debuted in the UFC in February 2018.

"With the performance I had [against Costa], I would think I was on f---ing steroids, too," Adesanya said.