Israel Adesanya admits error, apologize
UFC champion Israel Adesanya has made the frank admission that he was wrong to question the heritage of his UFC rival, Robert Whittaker.
Whittaker was born in New Zealand before moving to Australia as a child and has a Maori mother, but Adesanya previously referred to the former champion as a 'mozzie' - a Maori Australian - during their heated rivalry.
Adesanya himself was born in Nigeria and grew up in New Zealand, and proudly represents both nations.
With the Last Stylebender's latest rivalry with Dricus du Plessis clouded by a racially-charged narrative - in which both are arguing over their African heritage - Adesanya reflected on the term he directed at Whittaker and admitted he was wrong.
'Funny enough, someone brought it to my attention that I did the same thing to Rob,' Adesanya said on The Halfcast Podcast. 'And I was like, "True, I did because I called him a mozzie."
'I was like, "F***, they're right." But guess what? I was wrong. That's called growth. I learned.
'I realized that's – how's this, a black guy, telling this f***ing Maori that, "Nah, you're not a f***ing true Kiwi because you live in Australia."
'That's stupid. So again, this is called growth.'
Du Plessis has claimed Adesanya is not a true African UFC champion because he no longer lives in Africa. The reigning title holder admitted that his use of the same argument to Whittaker was illogical.
“I can admit when I was wrong. I f***ed up back then, but you learn. So I would never say that to Rob again because
who am I to try and take away his heritage? That’s f***ing stupid.
'I wasn’t even born here (New Zealand), but I claim to be from here because this is where my fighting heritage is from.
'But for me to have to say that to Rob, that was very stupid and that was wrong. So I shouldn’t have done that – but you learn.'