Mixed Martial Arts: Israel Adesanya apologises for social media rape threat

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 07: (L-R) Israel Adesanya of Nigeria punches Yoel Romero of Cuba in their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 248 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 07, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Israel Adesanya has apologised for threatening to rape a competitor on social media last week. 

The inflammatory comments were directed at fellow UFC middleweight Kevin Holland after he criticised Adesanya in an offensive manner. 

On Friday, Adesanya admitted his comments "crossed a line". 

"Last weekend fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed a line. I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was NEVER my intention," he said in a statement on Twitter. 

"I am still to growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure (sic)." 

The apology comes after backlash from anti-rape groups and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. 

On Thursday, the Sports and Recreation Minister said nobody should be making "jokes or flippant comments" about such a topic. 

"I'm sure Israel understands that, I believe he has deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do," he told Radio New Zealand.

"But I would certainly be making clear to him, and to anybody actually, that we have to take rape seriously. It's not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all."

Anti-rape campaigners also hit out at Adesanya, saying his comments can "culture where it is acceptable to make sexualised comments with the potential to cause further harm". 

"Sportspeople and celebrities can really influence young people. We would like to see this happen in a positive way, not misused and normalising threats of sexual violence," Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill told Stuff. 

It's not the first time Adesanya has got in hot water over his social media use. 

In January, Adesanya used Twitter to put the squeeze on an outstanding debtor.

"Someone owes me money and isn't wanting to pay," said the now-deleted posts. "I'm gonna put their number on here and imma need y'all to rind [sic] this person at random and demand they pay me ASAP!!

"Alice. Pay me my motherf**ken money!!!"

Later, Adesanya's account posted: "That's enough for now. The message was received."

The target was bombarded by abusive texts, but many of Adesanya's followers called him out for the action.

"He's put someone's number on Twitter to get harassed lol hella cases being caught," says one response.

"Dude, using your platform and fan base like that is honestly f**ked," says another. "Why do you think doxxing is OK?"

Yesterday, Adesanya seemed defiant in his comments, Tweeting "Incoming clickbait NZ media in 3, 2, 1…," along with a GIF of a man eating popcorn. 

He followed it up with another Tweet saying it was "all about the clout". 

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