UFC 259: Israel Adesanya, City Kickboxing battle for right to wear silver fern into Octagon

UFC champion Israel Adesanya is eyeing history, hoping to become the first person to hold the light-heavyweight and middleweight belts at the same time. 

Adesanya and two City Kickboxing teammates will line-up at UFC 259, but have had to fight for the right to wear fern into the Octagon next week.

Before discussing one of the biggest bouts of his career on Thursday, Adesanya and coach Eugene Bareman wanted to address their out-of-ring struggles. 

"The UFC is stopping us from using the silver fern, because they've been contacted by the All Blacks and asked not to use it because it's been trademarked," says Bareman.

NZ Rugby has quickly responded, saying: "NZR has not had any communications with the UFC around the use of our logos.

"We are supportive of all sports people representing New Zealand, but are protective of our commercial IP including the specifically designed NZR fern."

CKB care about the issue deeply. 

"This is definitely something we are passionate about," insists Bareman. "We are not going to walk out there without the silver ferns."

NZR has doubled down, informing Bareman that no-one from their legal team has contacted the UFC and the issue has now been resolved, after what’s been described as a misunderstanding. 

Adesanya will now sport the silver fern next week, when he fights for the light heavyweight title against Jan Blachowicz. 

Israel Adesanya makes a point about wearing the silver fern
CKB trainer Eugene Bareman speaks out about wearing the silver fern. Photo credit: Photosport

"Legacy, that's one thing," says Adesanya. "It's just like doing shit that most men in the UFC, let alone the world, haven't done."

Despite the move up in divisions, Adesanya's staying at his normal weight.

"I’m still going to eat clean in fight week, still jump in the sauna fight week," he says. 

He won't be the only Auckland fighter to enter the Octagon next week. Kai Kara France is looking to bounce back from a loss last time out.

"There are just some little adjustments I need to make and we’ve been doing that in this fight camp," he says. "We’re confident coming into this one."

Meanwhile, Carlos Ulburg will make his UFC debut in Vegas. 

"No pressure, I know the outcome," he says. "The outcome is I come out smiling and happy at the end of it."

CKB will hope that's also with a silver fern on their chest.

Join us on March 7 for live updates of UFC 259, including Adesanya v Blachowiz