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UFC star Israel Adesanya became a fighter after he was bullied at school, loves dance and drives a £500,000 McLaren car

ON Saturday night, Israel Adesanya will walk into the octagon as UFC's Middleweight Champion.

Few will give his opponent Paulo Costa a prayer, as the fearless fighters lock horns under the glitzy spotlights of the Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

But the 31-year-old, who has won ALL 19 of his MMA fights, hasn't always been the tough guy.

At high-school growing up in New Zealand, Adesanya was the target of school bullies.

Remarkably, he still keeps them as friends on Facebook - only to remind them that he's not to be messed with now.

The life Adesanya leads today, taking up martial arts after he was bullied by his fellow pupils, is one of glamour - he drives a £500,000 McLaren.

He's certainly having the last laugh.


Adesanya was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but his family emigrated to New Zealand when he was 10 so their five children could receive a better education.

They settled in Rotorua, a town found in the North Island and renowned for its Maori culture.

However, the Japanese anime fan was subjected to horrific bullying at Rotorua Boys' High School.

The ordeal he went through turned him into a real-life Karate Kid, with Adesanya revealing in the past that he took up martial arts because of the torment he suffered as a child.

And after 'The Last Stylebender' defeated Australian Robert Whittaker, he spoke of those who picked on him at school.

Astonishingly, he admitted he still keeps them as contacts on Facebook.

"They've seen me now," he told The AM Show.

"I keep some of them on my Facebook, so they can see how I'm shining.

"In my head, I look at my bullies. I still see them as bigger than me, but when I go back to Rotorua I'm like, 'I was scared of you'?"


Since signing with the UFC in 2017, Adesanya's stock and wealth has risen.

In his last three fights at UFC 248, 243 and 236, he's said to have pocketed over £1million.

And should he defeat Costa on Saturday, he will reportedly be around £500,000 richer.

His winnings have afforded him a life of luxury, including an orange 2019 McLaren 720s Spider worth over £500,000.

But it wasn't his first choice of motor.

"I have this Lamborghini toy car that I've always visualised owning," the 6ft 4in Adesanya revealed.

"I test-drove it and my head hits the roof, so it wasn't suitable. 

"But the cool thing about the McLaren is that it was invented by a Kiwi guy, which is something not many people know about it. 

"It feels like a spaceship. People keep saying 'well deserved', but I don't feel like I deserved it - I earn't it." 


When Adesanya makes his way to the octagon - don't expect it to be like any normal walkout.

Before he destroyed Whittaker, fans were treated to an incredible dance show.

So, expect the unexpected.

Dance is another of Adesanya's passions. He took it up at high-school, initially to score popularity points with his schoolmates.

But soon it became a way of expression for the youngster, and he competed in dance competitions all over New Zealand.

However, UFC president Dana White isn't a fan of Adesanya's dance moves.

“Well he’s an interesting guy anyways, but yeah, I don’t love it," he told TMZ Sports.

"I battle with him every time we do it, you know? I keep it as minimal as possible. I like guys that just walk right into the Octagon, they’re serious, they’re all business."

Should Adesanya deliver a knockout performance at UFC 253 on Saturday, surely White can't doubt the fighter's seriousness in the octagon?

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