Israel Adesanya ‘not dead’ and not retiring, but coy on timeline for UFC return

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Israel Adesanya thinks the reaction to his plans for an extended hiatus from was overblown.

Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC), a former two-time UFC middleweight champion, announced weeks after his upset loss to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in September that he wouldn't fight for a “long time” after being one of the most active top fighters in the sport over the past half-decade.

Although the decision was understandable given Adesanya's consistent schedule from his kickboxing career into his MMA run, critics pondered if there was more to it, and whether he would actually step back in the octagon.

In Adesanya's mind, all of that is nonsense.

“Oh my god – the way people literally – I was getting so many messages,” Adesanya told MMA Junkie and other reporters on Friday ahead of the Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou boxing event. “I was getting tagged in so many things and I'm just like, all these messages. I'm just like, ‘Yo, I'm not dead. I'm not retiring.' Calm down. N*gga, I'm alive. I'm still kicking. So we hear.”

Adesanya was pressed on exactly when he might step back in the octagon, but he played coy. He was hesitant when proposed with the idea of fighting in 2024, and instead overshot that timeline by a significant margin, but in a facetious manner.

“2027,” Adesanya. “Look for the return. I'll see you there.”

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