The great thing about rivalries in the UFC is that they, more often than not, will end up settling their beef in a fistfight. One of the fastest-growing rivalries in the UFC is between Israel Adesanya, the middleweight champion, and Jon Jones, the light heavyweight champion. Here’s a look at their rivalry and what it could mean if they fight it out in the ring.
Why do Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya have a rivalry in the first place?
Like many rivalries, this all started from a minor thing, according to MMAJunkie. After beating Kelvin Gastelum and claiming the interim middleweight belt, Adesanya talked about his future plans.
He said that, since he had already beaten Anderson Silva, one of the greatest of all time, he wanted to beat Jones, who he said was also one of the greatest of all time.
Jones didn’t take this comment well, and from there, it’s spiraled out of control. The two continuously traded jabs at each other, oftentimes making it personal.
Jones makes fun of Adesanya’s hobbies by calling him a “nerd,” and whenever Jones gets in trouble with the law, Adesanya throws a combo at him over social media about it. That said, their rivalry doesn’t seem to be too serious, here’s why.
Comparing this rivalry with the Khabib vs. Conor rivalry
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s rivalry with Conor McGregor is probably one of the most famous ones to date. It’s been going on for a long time and there is some clear animosity between the two.
For example, before Nurmagomedov’s fight at UFC 223, Nurmagomedov slapped one of McGregor’s best friends in the face. McGregor then threw a dolly at the bus that Nurmagomedov was on.
Nurmagomedov wasn’t hurt by this and McGregor was arrested, but it escalated things to a whole other level. In the build-up to their fight at UFC 229, there was a lot of trash talk, mostly by McGregor. And then, during their fight, Nurmagomedov and McGregor both let loose. McGregor tried to cheat by throwing some illegal blows, and when Nurmagomedov wrapped his arms around McGregor’s neck, he clearly didn’t want to let go.
Surely enough, after Nurmagomedov won the fight, he almost immediately jumped out of the cage to attack McGregor’s friend. This started a massive brawl in the arena and that didn’t even end their rivalry. McGregor is still trying to get a rematch to settle the score, and their beef continues to this day.
That rivalry is clearly between two men who actually hate each other and will break the law to get at one another. That doesn’t seem like the rivalry that Jones and Adesanya has.
For now, the two men seem content with trading jabs over social media. While they don’t have a friendly rivalry, it’s clear that they don’t hate each other as much as Nurmagomedov hates McGregor and vice versa.
Do rivalries impact how fights go?
As UFC 229 showed, yes, rivalries can affect how fights go. McGregor usually isn’t a dirty fighter, but when Nurmagomedov was on top of him, McGregor would try to hit him with his knees. This is an illegal shot and it actually landed a few times, but McGregor wasn’t punished for it.
That said, the opposite is true, too. The best fighters, just like the best athletes, will remain calm under pressure. Emotions can get the best of anyone, and if they make a fighter do something stupid, then that fighter can get knocked out easily. That’s why many fighters, when they fight their rivals, stick to the game plan and don’t let their emotions take the wheel.
A good example of this is the rivalry between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. Both men hate each other but both men remained calm in their fights and never did anything crazy. That said, Jones won both of them, so that may be a sign for what’s to come for Adesanya.