written by Bukunmi Akinshipe

When I decided to write a piece on Israel Adesanya and realized he was popularly referred to as “The Stylebender”, it brought back a childhood memory:

If I take a random pick, I like to think 1-in-10 young boys in Nigeria then, was caught in the frenzy of the phase that was “Avatar; The Last Airbender”. I remember it was with such enthusiastic young boys would make imitation images with the famous arrow on their scalp whilst they playfully tried to mimic words from the cartoon series in aspirations of attaining some celestial heights. 

What a period!

If you haven’t heard about him before, crisp-striking, smooth-talking, anime-loving meme lord Israel Adesanya is a professional mixed martial artist. He spent his growing years in Nigeria learning Taekwondo in school before he later relocated to New Zealand. His intense obsession with anime earned him his nickname, “The Last Stylebender”, which is in reference to the television show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the show, four elements – water, earth, fire, and air – contend to maintain world order. There is a fair argument that “style” be added as a fifth element, with Israel’s consistent show of conquest in the martial arts world.

Some strong adherents of his might recall a particular incident in a fight with opponent Whittaker known as “The Grim Reaper”. Israel was observed to have taken an imaginary notebook out of his back pocket, scribbled something down, and tucked it away while eyeing the cameras. It was later on it was realized that he was actually paying homage to renowned Japanese anime “Death Note”. In this anime, the protagonist discovers a notebook that gives its holder the power to kill anyone by simply writing their name on its page. The Shinigami, “death gods”, are the characters that make this happen, and those who know the rules of the Death Note know that after your name is written, the Shinigami will get you.

You just guess what happened thereafter? 

The Grim Reaper was gotten.

It was such a striking statement Israel made, with that performance.


Currently, Israel is signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the UFC Middleweight Champion and has an undefeated record of 19 wins and no losses. Also, in kickboxing, he is the former Glory middleweight contender winner and King in the Ring two-time cruiserweight and heavyweight champion. 

Apparently I’ve got pillow hands. I showed you guys I can take [punches] and give them as well. I don’t throw and hope, I aim and fire. Boo hoo!”

Some critics have chosen to make a mockery of Adesanya, and castigate what they consider forced swagger and trash-talking. However, those who truly know his combat history are aware that he has consistently backed up his alleged flowery words with undisputed results.

Consistently and deliberately, Israel Adesanya proves to us, that he is one of the best strikers in the world of mixed martial arts as well as one of the best in sport’s history. He truly is the Last Stylebender.

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