Israel Adesanya is not one to waste time.

From his second fight in the UFC and his interim middleweight title bout in April last year, there were just 365 days between them. In that time, the Kiwi star had five bouts, including his first three main events.

Reflecting on the rate at which he rose through the ranks as part of UFC Fight Pass' new series Year of the Fighter, Adesanya said even he can't fathom the position he is in at times.

"Sometimes I look at my s***, like the way I live, and wonder: 'what the f***, how did I even get here?'" Adesanya said.


"I'm just a fan, I'm just a fan of the UFC and MMA, and somehow I ended up here. It's crazy.

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"I'm grateful for the position I'm in. I get to play against the best in the world; this is as real as it gets. This ain't EA Sports UFC – you guys all play online on PlayStation or Xbox, I play this shit in real life and it is mind-blowing."

The story of Adesanya's wild 365-day stretch was the focus of the first episode in the series and looks at his wins over Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, Anderson Silva, and, ultimately, his interim title win over Kelvin Gastelum.

In the 24-minute account, Adesanya provides insights into each fight and the story behind them, as well as touching on how his life has changed since he made his debut in the UFC in February 2018.

"My personal life has changed a lot, but you have to know how to move," Adesanya said.

"I've seen this and plotted it for years. My life has changed and is still going to keep changing because I can still walk down the street a little bit and just enjoy life, but eventually those days are going to be gone, so I enjoy it while I can."

The last two fights in his incredible 365-day stretch are two he won't soon forget – with a unanimous decision win over Silva, a legend of the sport, in Melbourne before a unanimous decision win over Gastelum in a bout that will one day go into the UFC Hall of Fame.


The fight against Silva had a particular appeal to it, with many likening Adesanya's style to that of Silva in his prime. Seeing the two inside the octagon together was an experience for fans of the sport and the pair put on a masterful display of striking and trying to outwit the other.

While Adesanya received some backlash on social media for needing to go to a decision against a 40-year-old Silva, there was plenty of entertainment in the 15-minute fight.

Adesanya's family joined him in Melbourne to watch the bout against Silva, and now as one of the UFC's key figures, Adesanya takes it upon himself to ensure his family are by his side every step of the way.

Israel Adesanya with his family after winning the interim middleweight championship against Kelvin Gastelum. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Adesanya with his family after winning the interim middleweight championship against Kelvin Gastelum. Photo / Getty Images

"Before Melbourne, my brother was working like 60-hour weeks just to save up for the fight, to get over to Melbourne and watch me fight Anderson Silva. My family all work hard, we're Nigerian, so from that fight I was like 'f*** all that.' Now I fly my family out and put them up, I let them have a good time. I want my support system with me to enjoy watching me fight.

"Who am I without them? They're my creators; my mum and dad, my family - Adesanya people."