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Home African CEOs Interviews Visionaries How Nigerian MMA Fighter, Israel Adesanya, Made His Millions
Visionaries - February 15, 2022

How Nigerian MMA Fighter, Israel Adesanya, Made His Millions

Adesanya was bullied in high school. This inspired his desire to practice martial arts, leading to a multimillion dollar career.

Israel Owolabi Adesanya, born on the 22nd of July, 1989, is a professional mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and former boxer from Nigeria who has won many titles in all three disciplines. He is the current UFC Middleweight Champion as a mixed martial artist, having signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In kickboxing, he was a former Glory Middleweight Championship title contender. As of the 25th of October 2021, he is ranked third in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

How it all Started for Israel Adesanya

israel adesanya
Source: The Punch

Adesanya was born the eldest of five children in Lagos, Nigeria. Oluwafemi, his father, is an accountant, and Taiwo, his mother, is a nurse. Adesanya was a student at Chrisland School in Opebi and a member of the school’s Taekwondo after-school club until his mother pulled him due to an injury. He moved to Ghana with his family for ten months in 1999. They settled in Rotorua, New Zealand when he was ten years old and attended Rotorua Boys’ High School.

 During his high school years, Adesanya was more interested in Japanese anime such as Death Note and Naruto than sports. Adesanya was bullied in high school and credits his desire to practice martial arts later in life to his maltreatment.

 After graduating from high school, Adesanya enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Computer Design at the Universal College of Learning in Whanganui. He began training in kickboxing at 18 after being inspired by the Muay Thai film Ong-Bak. Adesanya gave up his studies two years later to pursue a career in kickboxing, and he went on to build a 32–0 amateur record before turning professional and competing in China. 

 At 21, Adesanya moved to Auckland, New Zealand, and began training in mixed martial arts under Eugene Bareman at City Kickboxing with UFC fighters Dan Hooker, Kai Kara-France, and current UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski. He trains in wrestling under the Romanian New Zealander Andrei Păuleț.Adesanya is multilingual. He is fluent in Yoruba, Nigerian Pidgin, and English. 

Israel Adesanya has had an eventful martial arts career, attaining relevant milestones in boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts. But we’ll be trailing his time at the UFC in this one. 

The Start of His MMA Career


israel adesanya
Souce: Tapology

In 2012, Adesanya made his professional mixed martial arts debut, defeating James Griffiths by TKO. He won another TKO over John Vake Before taking a two-year layoff. In August 2015, he returned to MMA and got a TKO victory against Song Kenan. He went on to have an 8–0 record, primarily fighting in the Oceanian and Chinese circuits. During this time, he won the AFC Middleweight Championship with a first-round TKO over Melvin Guillard at Australia Fighting Championship 20 and the Hex Fight Series Middleweight Championship with a first-round KO of Stuart Dare. 


Israel Adesanya Reaches for UFC Gold

israel adesanya
Source: talkSPORT

Adesanya inked a deal with the UFC in December of 2017. On the 11th of February, 2018, he made his UFC 221 debut against Rob Wilkinson. In the second round, he was declared the winner by technical knockout. He received the Performance of the Night bonus due to this victory. On the 14th of April, 2018, Adesanya’s next bout was at UFC on Fox 29, when he faced Marvin Vettori. He was victorious in a tie-breaker.

On the 6th of July, 2018, at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, Adesanya took on Brad Tavares. By unanimous decision, Adesanya won the one-sided bout.

Adesanya faced Derek Brunson at UFC 230 on the 3rd of November, 2018. He beat his opponent in the first round with a technical knockout. Despite being billed as the co-main event, Adesanya battled former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 234 on the 10th of February, 2019. He was declared the winner by unanimous decision. This battle was awarded Fight of the Night to both combatants.


Israel Adesanya in 2022: An Undefeated Heavy Weight Champion

israel adesanya
Source: TheCable

Israel Adesanya is the reigning and undefeated UFC middleweight champion, a feat that has earned him the title “The Last Style Bender”. On the 12th of February, 2022, Adesanya successfully defended his championship belt against Australian MMA fighter Robert Whitaker.

The multimillionaire fighter made $1.54 million in his fourth UFC title defence, the first of many fights under a new contract.

israel adesanya

Source: NewshubThe Nigerian-born MMA fighter got a total base pay of $1 million from the UFC 271 main event and a $42,000 sponsorship bonus in his first championship defence under a new lucrative arrangement with the UFC.


He also received $500,000 in pay-per-view revenue from the promotion, raising his total prize money from the 25-minute title battle to $1.54 million.

 READ ALSO:How African Billionaire, Nathan Kirsh Made $320 million in 14 Days

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