Anime Geek and UFC Star Israel Adesanya ‘Draws Strength From Characters That Aren’t Even Real’

UFC fighters come in all shapes and sizes. They all have their own unique personalities, too. This is especially true for Israel Adesanya, the current undefeated 185-pound middleweight champ. Let’s look at Adesanya’s anime interest and how it’s truly his lifelong passion.

Who is Israel Adesanya?

Israel Adesanya interacts with media
UFC fighter Israel Adesanya | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

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While the UFC will sometimes coddle a fighter by giving them easy fights, this wasn’t what happened to Adesanya. He’s an accomplished kickboxer who made the move over to MMA. With an undefeated record of 11-0, he joined the UFC in spectacular fashion. Adesanya’s first UFC fight took place on February 2018, and a year later, he had already beaten five guys. 

He started slowing down as the UFC gave him tougher fights who required more training. But Adesanya lived up to expectations. He completely dismantled some of the best fighters in the division, some of whom were undefeated. For example, Robert Whittaker had never lost a fight in the middleweight division. Then, Adesanya made easy work of Whittaker, knocking him out after two rounds. 

With an undefeated 20-0 record, Adesanya has beaten so many middleweights that he’s set his sights on the 205-pound light heavyweight division. He faces Jan Blachowicz for the belt at UFC 259. Many think Adesanya will make it look easy again. While this might be a tough fight, Adesanya has plenty of inspiring characters to look up to as he trains.

Israel Adesanya’s lifelong passion: anime

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As ESPN reports, Adesanya is a certifiable anime nerd. On many occasions, he’s referenced his favorite anime shows and movies while walking out to the octagon. When he’s fighting, some of his anime-inspired tattoos are visible for eagle-eyed viewers. And, when he’s not fighting, he often talks about his love for anime and cartoons. 

Adesanya told ESPN that when he was a kid, he’d watch anime and cartoons for the animation itself. He’d pay so much attention to the actual animation that he would have to rewatch the show just to understand the story. Like he told ESPN, “That’s what I love about anime, the fight scenes in certain anime; it’s such fluid animation, really really crisp. It jazzes me up.”

When it comes to anime or cartoons, there are plenty of characters that he loves. Unsurprisingly, many of them are fighters.

Just how much of an anime nerd is Israel Adesanya

Since he’s so unashamed of who he is, he made it clear to his fans about his anime credentials. He told ESPN that he absolutely loves Naruto, which is a long-running anime series. Adesanya said that he’s watched all 700-plus episodes and the movies. 

Naruto is about ninjas. While there is a fighting aspect, Adesanya likes Naruto for more than that. Indeed, he actually felt inspired by Naruto, the character. He told ESPN:

I draw strength from characters that aren’t even “real,” because they’re animated. But they’re real for me and it’s all about what’s in here, what you feel in here [the heart] and I can relate to those guys more than I can to some of the great leaders of our time.

He clarified that while he loves Naruto, he also loves Naruto’s friends as well as other characters in the show. As his tattoos show, he’s also a big fan of other nerdy characters like Deadpool or Toph.