'Bit of an adjustment' – Mahe Drysdale coming to terms with return to men’s quad after 13 years solo

For over a decade, Mahe Drysdale has been competing at the top level in the men's single scull but at next month's world championships, that'll all change.

The double Olympic champion has been named in the men's quad and he has quickly had to get used to working with crew mates again.

The 39-year-old admits it’s been a challenge.

"It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me from setting my own rhythm, being my own man and you've got to fit in with a crew," he said.

"I’ve been very much the one who has to make some changes."

After failing to win the singles spot for next month's world championships, Drysdale decided to put his hand up for another crew.

He has spent three weeks trialling for the quadruple scull and seen the numbers change on and off the water - he's now the lightest he's been since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.             

Part of Rowing New Zealand's trial process is the notoriously brutal seat racing on Lake Karapiro where athletes row the two kilometre course again and again in different combinations to see which one is the fastest.

The routine is something Drysdale hasn't had to do in 14 years and it came as a bit of a shock to the system.

"It's been pretty tough the last few days with some pretty hard racing," he said.

"You know your spot’s on the line so mentally and physically it’s pretty tough on the body and doing repeats and repeats and repeats."

But it's his mental toughness that most excites his new coach, Mike Rodger.

Rodger worked with Rob Waddell during the duo's 2008 showdown for the single seat and says he sees the same determined rower now as he did then.

"He's amazing under pressure. He brings somethings special every time so we're going to pick his brains and bleed from him as much as he can when it comes to that."

Drysdale replaces Jordan Parry who won the 2017 under-23 world title in the quad but at the last elite World Cup, the quad missed out on the A final.

New crewmate Nathan Flannery hopes Drysdale can push them into medal contention.

"What we've seen and felt in the boat is he's obviously a big, strong guy and you can feel that horsepower in there.

"I guess the challenge for us moving forward is to link that into something we can all work with."

They have just a month to get three plus one to equal a quad.

Drysdale has owned the single sculls spot since 2005 but that will all change at this year’s world champs. Source: 1 NEWS

Kiwi UFC star Israel Adesanya calls himself 'the black Kiwi, the real All Black' - wants title fight with Aussie Robert Whittaker

Outspoken Kiwi UFC star Israel Adesanya says winning his next bout should put him in line for a shot at the middleweight title.

The 29-year-old is unbeaten in his MMA career and has had three wins in the UFC.

Adesanya says once he dispatches his next American rival Derek Brunson, he wants a shot at Australian champion Robert Whittaker.

"After this fight I might just get the belt after Whittaker verses Kelvin (Gastelum) and do it at Spark Arena,"said Adesanya.

"I already said it, that's how I see it happening. So me, Robert, if he holds onto it (middleweight title) – Spark Arena, that's going to be sick.

"The Aussie verse the black Kiwi, the All Black you understand – the real All Black."

Adesanya told 1 NEWS after his MMA training in Auckland that his feud with Brunson is real and that the American will be in for a rude awakening in their fight scheduled for November at UFC 230 in New York.

"He's just a little b****. I've got more heat for him, he's a guy - like anything I do he's like 'me too,'" he said.

Brunson and Adesanaya's ongoing battle online began after the US fighter called out the Nigeria-born Kiwi in a video he posted on social media.

"I put out a meme he puts out a s****** meme, I embarrass him at the bar he tries to embarrass me in a s****** way at the bar.

"I can make him do what I want to in a fight, I can make him jab when I want to I can make him dance when I want to."

The two faced off last week at press conference in Los Angeles and were separated by the UFC president Dana White in their stare down.

"If not for Dana being in front of us he was like already leaning in with his chin up. I came out there and established my distance straight away.

"I put my hand on his chest and that could have been his chin, you know I could have snapped him like that.

"But I am not going to hit him I want to knock him out and get paid, he's already told me physically and subconsciously what he is going to do so I can't wait.

"I really want to punish him up until the second round but don't even know if he can last the first honestly."

Adesanya's fight is on the same card as Nate Diaz who is the co-main event, Diaz is set to fight third-ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier.

It is the first time Diaz has fought in the UFC since he suffered a majority decision defeat to Conor McGregor two years ago.

Adesanya says his hate for US rival Derek Brunson is genuine and he predicts he will finish him in the first round or second round. Source: 1 NEWS


'He's the face of my division' - Kiwi MMA prospect Kai Kara-France on landing UFC contract and training under flyweight champ Henry Cejudo

For New Zealand mixed martial artist Kai Kara-France, combat sports was a saving grace as a youngster.

The flyweight said he was cheering on his former coach Cejudo, who was crowned the new UFC flyweight champ at the weekend. Source: 1 NEWS

Now, the flyweight fighter has signed a contract with the biggest MMA organisation in the world – the UFC.

Kara-France was on UFC's Ultimate Fighter season 24 series in 2016, where he fought under new flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.

Cejudo is an Olympic American wrestling gold medallist who beat the pound-for-pound number one fighter Demetrious Johnson by split decision at UFC 227 in Las Vegas on Sunday.

"This guy (Cejudo), he's pretty much the face of my division now, so it was great to rub shoulders with those kind of people and just kind of network off all these different athletes.

"Here we are now two years later after the Ultimate Fighter and now we are in the UFC, finally.

"It was an honour to pick his brain, he is an Olympic gold medallist in wrestling as well, a tremendous athlete.

"We still stay in contact, he wanted to come out do his fight camp for this fight (UFC 227 flyweight champion bout), actually just to train with him and help him out, I can make that schedule and make that time to train with the champ.

"But I was in limbo of what I was doing so I couldn’t make that call, but now since I am in the UFC I can kind of structure my year-schedule and now if he wants me to come."

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13:  (R-L) Head coach Henry Cejudo watches as Kai Kara-France warms up before facing Terrence Mitchell during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Benavidez vs Team Cejudo at the UFC TUF Gym on July 13, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Head coach Henry Cejudo watches as Kai Kara-France warms up before facing Terrence Mitchell during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Benavidez vs Team Cejudo at the UFC TUF Gym in Las Vegas. Source: Getty

The 25-year-old was sent a special video message by UFC president Dana White, who welcomed him into the MMA organisation last month.

The Auckland fighter said the news didn't sink in until his fighting coach Eugene Bareman congratulated him.

"When I hugged Eugene he told me in my ear 'all that hard work has paid off.' that's when the water works started coming out," he said.

"Emotion took over, it's only because I've worked so hard for this and it was a great moment."

Kara-France told 1 NEWS that he got into combat sports as a teenager after being picked on for his size.

"I got into the sport at a young age, when I was 13 that is when I started Ju-Jitsu, but my parents got me into it because I had confidence issues when I was growing up.

"Just because I was so small and so short I'd get bullied a bit, so not just to defend myself, but just to install that confidence in me as a young man.

"You learn a lot about yourself in an individual sport like this, when times get tough you want to know that you can get through to the other side and be okay.

"So that's what I always want to push for the younger generation as well, not just to think you can defend yourself in a fight, but it's about the way you hold yourself as a martial artist."

Representing New Zealand on the combat sports scene has been one of Kara-France's biggest ambitions for a long time.

"I love representing where I have come from, my people and showcasing how much talent we have in New Zealand."

The flyweight fighter says landing a UFC contract is like making the All Blacks.

"For us it's kind of like making the All Blacks being in the UFC, seeing it as a possibility for the new generation - it's awesome to see."

Kara-France's MMA coach Bareman said his fighter deserves everything that has come his way.

"It's tremendously satisfying getting Kai signed, he has been working at this almost his entire adult life and part of his childhood as well," said Bareman.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 21: Kai Kara-France poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on July 21, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
New Zealand MMA fighter Kai Kara-France. Source: Getty

"He's run into a few bumps and hurdles and to finally get this over the line, it's really satisfying for me and obviously for him.

"We've achieved this but now we have got to move on because we have got some work to do."

Nigeria-born UFC middleweight star Israel Adesanya, who is a teammate of Kara-France at the City Kickboxing team, praised him for his work ethic.

"He's right there where he belongs," said Adesanya.

"He's worked with the best and is working with the best now."

It is not known when Kara-France will make his debut in the UFC, but his team are hoping to get a spot on the UFC Fight Night event on December 1 in Adelaide, Australia.

The powerful 125-pounder (57kg) has an MMA record of 17 wins, sevens losses with nine KO finishes and three submission wins.