In the UFC, Adesanya is the reigning middleweight champion. The 32-year-old was born in Lagos, Nigeria but is famous for rising through the MMA ranks in Auckland, New Zealand.
In an interview with Netflix Naija, Adesanya talked about his Nigerian roots.
Adesanya started off by stating his seven names, six of which are Nigerian. He said, “I’m Israel Mobolaji Temitayo Odunayo Oluwafemi Owolabi Adesanya.”
When asked what his favourite Nigerian dish is, Adesanya gave a detailed explanation of why, for him, suya (grilled meat cooked on spits over smouldering coals) has a special place.
He said, ” I don’t mean suya like you make anywhere else in the world, like suya spice. The one like from the streets, cooked on coal on the side of the streets. night time, past seven, eight, nine pm. It gets wrapped in that newspaper.
“That suya, I’m thinking about it right now. My first order of business every time I go to Nigeria is to get suya. That’s like bar none before anything else. Before I even go see family.”
Another question to Adesanya was his fondest memory of growing up in Nigeria. He responded by narrating a story of struggling in school and going to stay with his school teacher.
He said, “To be honest, well there was a time. Cos, i was quite well off, My family was quite well off in Nigeria.
“I wasn’t really doing too good at school. I was getting really bad grades, so my parents made me go live with my teacher during the weekdays and at one point for a few months, like maybe nine months. I come home during the weekends, but during the weekdays I stay with my teacher in his house.
“During that time, I think that’s how I learnt how to be street-wise. ‘Cos after school I did my homework, then go play with the kids next door. They had a monkey called Stainless, I made friends with the monkey and then the kids.
“I just hang out with them after school and just go do fun stuff with my friends.
“I was able to just be like a street kid, but without being a street kid; with like a rich family behind me. It was fun.”
Adesanya over the course of the interview highlighted his preference for Nigerian music and how he continues to keep in touch with his roots.