Mixed Martial Arts: Kiwi UFC champion Israel Adesanya cops backlash over social media 'rape' threat

Kiwi UFC champion Israel Adesanya is back in hot water over inflammatory rape comments directed at middleweight rival Kevin Holland on social media.

Last week, the American viciously derided others in the division - especially Adesanya - as he hyped his weekend fight against Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22. Tenth-ranked Holland went on to lose the fight, with UFC boss Dana White blaming a "mental breakdown".

But Adesanya responded to the tirade with one of his own, during which he reportedly claimed: "Bro, I will f***ing rape you!" His Instagram post has since been removed.

The City Kickboxing fighter has 4.6 million Instagram followers and his reaction has earned a rebuke from anti-rape campaigners, who fear it normalises threats of sexual violence.

"People with large social media following can play a significant role in reducing rates of sexual violence and creating healthy cultures of consent for any sexual activity," Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill has told Stuff.

"Conversely, these kind of comments, where rape is used as a threat, create a 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."  

During his attack last week, Holland accused Adesanya of using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I think Israel Adesanya has a titty and he was doing steroids to get that titty," he said, before turning his attention to media on the Adesanya bandwagon.

"You guys are f**king nuts for riding his dick so damn hard. Stop riding his dick so hard."

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?"

Adesanya will be a finalist in Wednesday's Halberg Awards Sportsman of the Decade category. When he won the 2019 award, Adesanya gave an acclaimed speech, attacking New Zealand's 'tall-poppy' attitude to successful celebrities and sportspeople.