UFC 234: Israel Adesanya reflects on 'crazy' win over Anderson Silva

After five wins in a year - almost exactly to the day - you could forgive Israel Adesanya for taking some time away from the Octagon.

Addressing media after his emphatic win at UFC 234 against the legendary Anderson Silva on Sunday (NZ time), 'The Last Stylebender' confirmed he'd be doing just that.

But he was adamant that his next fight would be for the middleweight title - even if that meant he had to wait out another championship bout.

Champion Robert Whittaker's last-minute withdrawal from the main event in Melbourne makes Adesanya's newly earned status as the division's top contender rather precarious, with the promotion likely opting to wait for the NZ-born Australian to recover and give Kelvin Gastelum the shot he'd been expecting.

That would put a significant delay on Adesanya's shot at the title, but he's happy to bide his time, while the suddenly murky middleweight landscape clears up.

"I'm the number one contender," said Adesanya. "I'm the guy fighting for the belt.

"I don't care - Kelvin or Rob, whoever it is, I don’t care, whoever has the belt.

"I'm fighting for the belt next, that's all I know. I did my job, I showed up to work."

Instead, the 29-year-old will return to his native Nigeria to reconnect and recharge, comfortable that the scenario will eventually unfold in his favour.

"I can afford to do what I want right now. I can wait out for as long as I need to, because I've done so much for the company.

"I've played my part and I'm the number one contender.

Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya. Photo credit: Getty

The drama of Whittaker's late scratching took a while to reach Adesanya, who found out about his promotion to the event's headline act via his family's group messaging thread.

"My dad posted 'Rob's out' and I was like 'wait, what?' As a fighter, I immediately had sympathy for him.

"I knew he'd be killing himself. You get close and then it just gets ripped away from you.

"Even for Kelvin, he's come all this way and worked so hard. It's the biggest anti-climax for them, but that's not my problem."

Adesanya's decisive win rounded out another hugely successful day for New Zealand mixed martial arts and, more specifically, his City Kickboxing gym. Earlier in the card, both Kai Kara-France and Shane Young prevailed via decision in their respective fights to make it 3-0 for the Kiwis in action.

It's the second time that three New Zealanders have emerged victorious at a UFC event, repeating the feats of Dan Hooker, Luke Jumeau and Mark Hunt in Auckland two years ago.

fight club

"We were in the trenches together, us three," Adesanya reflected. "Working hard, working our asses off for so long. 

"The fact that we all got a win - it's just history... history in the making. It puts NZ MMA, Australasia MMA on the map.

"Even in Nigeria, I found out they were playing this live on the satellite I used to watch as a kid, so that's cool.

"This is crazy - I'm still in the twilight zone. I really want to go have a shower, so I can think about this properly."