Israel Adesanya

Coach of New Zealand-Nigerian UFC ace Israel Adesanya, Eugene Bareman, has predicted that the battle against Jan Blachowicz this Saturday will not be mere bread and buttter.

“Israel Adesanya is facing the ‘hardest fight’ of his UFC career so far when he takes on Jan Blachowicz this weekend, according to his coach Eugene Bareman.

The reigning UFC middleweight champion is preparing to move up a class to light heavyweight to challenge the Polish champion at UFC 259 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Adesanya, who boasts a 20-0 UFC record, is the favourite but his camp know it will take a stunning performance to snatch the title away from Blachowicz and become only the fifth two-weight champion in UFC history.

‘This is Israel’s hardest fight by quite a bit,’ Bareman said in an appearance on Submission Radio.

‘I think this is a jump up from any of his previous challengers. And for all intents and purposes within our camp, we are building ourselves as the underdogs.

‘And we’re doing that based on we’re giving away this size and weight advantage that we sometimes have in our favour. Now we’re gonna give it away. So, it’s just a very hard (fight).

‘What we’re about to attempt here is, people don’t understand, a very, very difficult endeavour and a very risky one, and one that makes for all us coaches and Israel, it makes the hairs on the back of our necks stand up.

‘Because this is a true, true challenge – a hefty challenge. And it’s a scary one, and it’s one that gets you up early in the morning and wanting to attack it.

‘And we’ve had a great camp because it’s just a highly motivating fight. And it’s a highly motivating fight because it’s such a dangerous fight.’

Adesanya dismantled Paulo Costa in his last title defence and beat Robert Whittaker, the No 1 contender, to secure the belt in fine style back in October 2019.

The Nigerian has already been looking beyond Saturday night’s fight, however, and claimed this week that a showdown with Liverpool’s Darren Till is the only fight he is interested in at middleweight.

The 31-year-old told ESPN: ‘To be honest, none of them except Till (excite). I hope he keeps winning just so we can have that fight.

‘He’s just got to win, man. He’s got to get his s**t together and keep winning, Till. Come on, Scouser!’

Bareman also revealed last month that Adesanya is open to the ‘ultimate challenge’ of moving up to heavyweight in the future.

Adesanya and heavyweight legend Jon Jones have long been stoking the fires of their rivalry and a match-up between the pair would be a major fight for UFC.

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