Nigerian-born mixed martial artist Israel Adesanya, who won the UFC 287 Middleweight Championship on April 8, has a deep passion for Chinese culture.
He cut his teeth in the Chinese fighting circuit, making a name for himself in the Wu Lin Feng martial arts competition in the early 2010s.
More recently, he paid tribute to Chinese actor and martial artist Jet Li by wearing a dog collar ahead of Saturday’s title fight
In Unleashed, Li plays Danny, an enslaved man trained to be an attack dog. When his collar comes off, he becomes a relentless, lethal fighter.
At a pre-fight press conference, Adesanya said that he was a dog about to be unleashed — showing his confidence that he would win.
And the film reference seemed fortuitous: Adesanya KO’d Alex Pereira to claim the title at UFC 287 in Miami.