'You know it was wrong': Israel Adesanya urges Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to change coward punch law

Kiwi UFC champion Israel Adesanya has sent a powerful message to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calling for immediate change regarding coward punches.

After his dominant title defence against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 in Arizona on Sunday (NZ time), 'The Last Stylebender' dedicated his win to close friend and City Kickboxing teammate Fau Vake, who was killed in an alleged unprovoked attack in Auckland last month.

"I just wanted to say, Fau Vake, Fau Vake, Fau Vake I love you man," Adesanya said.

"Willie, John, James, all the Vake fam (sic), Isa banana, all love, you know what we do. This fight I dedicate to you Fau."

Earlier, teammate Brad Riddell also paid tribute to the 25-year-old Vake - who was a promising fighter and legitimate UFC prospect - after his win over Drew Dober.

At the post-fight press conference, Adesanya took the opportunity to stare down the barrel of the camera and urge PM Ardern to take immediate action.

Adesanya places his belt on the mat, paying tribute to late friend Fau Vake.
Adesanya places his belt on the mat, paying tribute to late friend Fau Vake. Photo credit: Getty

"Jacinda, I don't know who else is in your f**king cabinet, but you know it was wrong," Adesanya said. "You know exactly what to do.

"I don't know what puppet master is pulling the strings, but you're the leader of the country. You handled the mosque shootings like a f**king champ, can you please do the same with this shit too."

In 2018, a bill to introduce harsher punishment for coward punches from National MP Matt King was voted down in its first reading by Labour, NZ First and the Green Party.

"Australia was ahead. They created this really harsh penalty for people who blind shot people.

"You'd expect New Zealand to do the same thing. For what reason would you want to pass up on a bill like that? Who does that?"

Spearheaded by head coach Eugene Bareman, Adesanya and his gymmates have been vocal with their demands for change to the coward punch in the wake of Vake's death, inisiting the act is charged as murder and carries a mandatory 20-year sentence.

"If someone walks up to someone who is doing nothing – be it an old man or an old lady or whatever – and blind shots them from the back, give them 20 years, standard. Because that's assault with a deadly weapon.

"I don't want to get angry, I don't want to get political but I expect better from the Government of New Zealand.

"That was f**king wrong what they did to my boy. It was wrong and [the Government] know that too."