Israel Adesanya, a Nigerian MMA fighter, reclaimed his UFC middleweight championship belt by knocking out his bitter rival, Alex Pereira, at UFC 287 in Miami, Florida.
He landed two crushing right hands to knock out his 35-year-old opponent, avenging three previous defeats at the hands of Pereira. In 2016, and again in 2017, the Nigerian-born New Zealander was defeated by his archrival.
“I hope every one of you can feel this level of happiness for one time in your life,” Adesanya said after the fight. “But guess what – you’ll never feel this level of happiness if you don’t go for something in your life. When they knock you down, if you stay down you will never get that resolve.
“Fortify your mind and feel this level of happiness. I’m blessed to feel this again and again and again.”
Adesanya will receive a $2 million payday for his victory over Pereira. According to Billionaires Africa, the earnings include a $1 million guaranteed payout. Other sources of income include sponsorships, pay-per-view earnings, and a win bonus of nearly $100,000.
In addition, his $2 million payout brings his total earnings to $4.1 million. As a result, he is the highest-paid athlete on the UFC roster. Previously, Sportskeeda.com estimated his net worth to be between $2.5 million and $3 million.
Israel also has an endorsement deal with Engage, an Australian athletics gear and apparel company. He was also the first MMA fighter to sign a deal with the footwear and apparel company Puma.
Adesanya was born on July 22, 1989, as the first of five children to father Femi Adesanya, a reputable accountant, and mother Taiwo Adesanya, a nurse. He attended Chrisland School in Lagos before transferring to The Bells Secondary School in Ota, Ogun State.
Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Adesanya participated in Taekwondo. He later sustained a fracture, causing him to withdraw from the training, and later enrolled in a martial arts class because he was frequently bullied in school while in New Zealand. “I remember a kid from school kept on riding past my house and going: ‘Go back to your country, blackinese’,” he recalled in an interview with TMZ.
Adesanya and his family had relocated to New Zealand after abandoning their initial plans to relocate to the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. According to Storytell, his family first settled in Ghana before moving to Rotorua, New Zealand.
Adesanya attended Rotorua High School before enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Computer Design at the Universal College of Learning in Whanganui. The Nigerian began kickboxing after being inspired by the 2003 Thai martial arts film Ong-Bak.