'I love this kid' - UFC president says Kiwi star Israel Adesanya could be a fill-in for middleweight title fight

UFC president Dana White has hinted that Kiwi MMA middleweight star Israel Adesanya could be a backup for a title shot next year, after a devastating TKO yesterday at UFC 230 in New York.

The 29-year-old Nigerian born Kiwi rocked his US rival Derek Brunson in the first round, with a pin-point knee to the head before throwing a combination of kicks and punches to end his opponent.

White praised Adesanya's performance and said he could possibly fill in if either Aussie champ Robert Whitaker or Kelvin Gastelum pull out of their title fight, which is expected to be held in Melbourne around February next year.

"I love this kid, yeah maybe he will be the backup we'll talk about it. I literally can't sit here and tell you enough good things about this kid," said White.

"I like this kid a lot and he came out tonight and put the stamp on it," he added after yesterday's bout. "He came out tonight and really looked good tonight."

White said he hopes Adesanya takes a break and rejuvenates after a busy year in the UFC.

"He's very ambitious I would like him to pump the brakes a little bit.

"This guy wants to f****** fight everybody right now and he wants to fight every month, which I love.

"I don't want to move him as fast as he wants to be moved, so he and I will get together and find a happy medium."

Adesanya has a record of 15-0 in mixed martial arts and is undefeated in four fights in the UFC this year.