UFC: 'Polished' Israel Adesanya deserves praise for defeating legendary Anderson Silva

  • 12/02/2019

Israel Adesanya's performance in defeating Anderson Silva hasn't gone unnoticed by a former UFC star.

The Nigerian-born Kiwi out struck the Brazilian MMA legend in a three-round main event at UFC 234.

Some have questioned the credentials of Adesanya, who with the win has ascended to the top of the middleweight title rankings.

Former UFC champion Chris Weidman called Adesanya a "tad overrated" while fellow title contender Paulo Costa boasted he could beat 'The Last Stylebender' inside two-rounds.

UFC: 'Polished' Israel Adesanya deserves praise for defeating legendary Anderson Silva

But former UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen has jumped to Adesanya's defence in a breakdown of the fight on his Facebook page.

Sonnen, who challenged Silva twice for UFC gold during a 14-fight stint with the company, believes the City Kickboxing prospect enhanced his credentials against a man once regarded as the number one combat sports athlete on the planet.

"We saw a young man that went out there and found his range," Sonnen said.

"He did it all playfully while showing the reservedness of a polished, experienced fighter even though he is only 12 months into his octagon career.

"That moment when Anderson Silva went against the fence and called [Israel] in, tried to lure him in as he has to so many fighters who have fallen for that trap. Israel said 'ah ah - you come this way'.

"It was very smart and I think he showed a lot of fight intelligence.

"I think if you are willing to give Anderson Silva the respect he deserves for that performance then that's when you can really understand and comprehend how good Izzy did in that contest."

Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva.
Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva. Photo credit: Getty

And it was that 15-minute display from Silva that Sonnen believes is the true indicator of just how good Adesanya is.

The 43-year-old hadn't stepped inside the cage since a February 2017 win over Derek Brunson.

'The Spider' accepted the fight with Adesanya on the promise by UFC President Dana White that the winner would receive a middleweight title fight.

Silva came to fight - showing glimpses of the skill set that thrilled MMA fans during a near-decade-long run as a dominant champion.

Sonnen, a once-heated rival of Silva, was glowing in his praise of his former foe.

"He still had that speed. He has not slowed down," Sonnen said. "He took a couple of shots and a couple of those really hurt him but not enough to put him down or out.

"He returned a couple of shots - not enough to end Adesanya's night but Anderson did a very good job.

"I think Anderson showed he still has all of those faculties that we remember from his prime.

"I thought it was a great fight."

Adesanya will now play the waiting game. Champion Robert Whittaker will likely take up to two months to recover from abdominal surgery that forced him out of a title defence against Kelvin Gastelum on Sunday.

White told reporters in Melbourne that Whittaker will likely fight Gastelum next with Adesanya getting the winner in late 2019.