Boxing: Heavyweight Junior Fa 'inspired' by Israel Adesanya's UFC 236 championship performance

Watching a teammate go through combat sports hell to claim a world championship has motivated heavyweight boxer Junior Fa to follow suit.

Israel Adesanya edged American Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 two weeks ago in a bruising interim middleweight championship fight.

The five-round war has been described as the greatest middleweight fight in UFC history. 

Dana White, UFC president, hailed it as one of the greatest fights of all time.

Fa, ranked eighth by the WBO, trains with 'The Last Stylebender' at Auckland's City Kickboxing Gym and was cage-side for Adesanya's moment of glory.

The undefeated heavyweight got chills watching the fight unfold and told Newshub Adesanya's performance was awe-inspiring.

"The type of fight they had - man it was nuts and I was just so nervous for Izzy," Fa said.

"I saw that as a massive lesson for all of us in the gym.  All of us have the same type of training programme as Izzy, but it is tailored for each individual depending on your sport, be it MMA, boxing or kickboxing.

"But seeing him go through that fifth round, I mean yes we have seen that in training, but that was so inspiring to see what we are taught in training transferred into a fight."

The pain that Adesanya went through to best Gastelum was written all over his battered face.

And that damage proved a sight that Fa has never seen before through Adesanya's 50 professional fights.

But it reiterated to Fa why he made the move to one of the highest regarded combat sports gyms in Australasia.

"I have never seen Israel in a fight like that or being hit like that before," Fa said.

"It was crazy, but also a great lesson for all of us and to see his face, you know the damage he took, I wouldn't say it was awesome, but in a way it was cool to see his face and the belt - you know he kinda paid the price to win the belt. 

"Sometimes it's hard to represent that type of intensity or brutality in training because you aren't really smashing each other as you would in a fight, but to see Izzy's fifth-round mindset, yeah, it was just so inspiring and I know the guys in the gym are very inspired too.

"I have always had a strong belief in myself and my skills but this just gives me that extra faith in my training and my gym."

Boxing: Heavyweight Junior Fa 'inspired' by Israel Adesanya's UFC 236 championship performance

Fa is in Alabama helping WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder prepare for his upcoming defence against Dominic Breazeale.

Fortunately, Atlanta, UFC 236's location, is a short road trip from Fa's base in the south, meaning he was able to attend Adesanya's fight.

And given it could prove to be a defining moment in Fa's career, let alone Adesanya's, it was a trip worthwhile making.

"It was just a big coincidence that was near Atlanta at the time of the fight, and at that point, training camp for Deontay hadn't started.

"For me to be just down the road - basically a three-hour bus ride, to be there in person and chill with the team  for a bit and watch the fight live - that atmosphere was just awesome."

Fa's move to City Kickboxing two years ago raised a few eyebrows in the boxing community given its association with MMA. But he has no regrets and believes 'CKB's' philosophies will ultimately provide him with an advantage over his future opponents.

With fellow heavyweight prospect Hemi Ahio and Commonwealth champion David Nykia also spending time training under the eagle eye of renowned striking coach Doug Viney, CKB's reputation as a true combat sports gym is growing.

"Everything is just so much more professional for me now," Fa said.

"It's not just a fight camp, we are constantly in the gym whether we have a fight or not.

"I think it's just a different approach and more professional way of looking at combat sports. It shows you are in the sport because you love it, not because you are looking for a payday.

"We also train a lot harder than I have ever experienced before and I am eating a lot better now. It's a combination of all those things, but my approach is much better because of the culture at my gym."

Fa has been linked as a potential replacement for Jarrell Miller in June to face Anthony Joshua. The American has been pinged for failing multiple drugs test, meaning Eddie Hearn is on the hunt for a new fight.

While his US-based promoter Lou Di Bella called it a 'long shot, Fa told Newshub he will be ready if called upon.