This weekend’s UFC event in Abu Dhabi will have one of the strongest New Zealand influences in MMA history with four Kiwis on the fight card including a champion looking to defend his crown in the main event.
UFC 253, being staged at the infamous Fight Island which was created this year as a safe response to Covid-19, will feature Kiwis Kai Kara-France, Brad Ridell, Shane Young and Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya said New Zealand will make its mark on MMA’s global community this weekend.
“It’s for the land, it's what we do, it’s what we’ve always done,” Adesanya told 1 NEWS.
“Storming another piece of land in Abu Dhabi and taking over on this Fight Island and doing it with my brothers.”
Adesanya defends his middleweight title against undefeated Brazilian Paulo Costa on Sunday after months of back-and-forth trash talk on social media, although the Nigerian-born Kiwi believes he’s already landed the first blow this week when they met in a hotel hallway.
“They muffled something behind their masks so I doubled back just to check the energy,” Adesanya told 1 NEWS.
“I already confirmed what I already knew. He’s not about that action when there’s no cameras around or no crowd.”
Young added the Kiwi quartet are the complete opposite though.
“A champion team will always beat a team of champions.”