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UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya has taken aim at the treatment of New Zealand fighters in his home nation and has reaffirmed his promise to never fight there again.
Adesanya spoke at a packed press conference for UFC 276 and 277 in Sydney alongside fellow countryman Kai Kara-France and Aussie legend Alexander Volkanovski.
The No.3 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC slammed New Zealand’s portrayal of their own fighters and the country’s treatment of its stars in the midst of the pandemic.
He told Australian reporters: “(UFC) is not as hailed in the (New Zealand) media, as much as you guys (Australia) hail your champions.
“This is something I think they’re missing out on, and 20 years down the line I think they’re going to kick themselves and say we should’ve gotten behind these guys and we shouldn’t have tried to break up their camp, while other teams were able to have their isolated camps.”
Adesanya has been a strong critic of the Kiwi government’s treatment of his teammate Dan Hooker who was handed his visa out of New Zealand just 14 hours before he needed to make weight ahead of UFC 266
Police twice shut down training camps, making it difficult for fighters such as Hooker to train for his fight, despite letting other sporting sides out of the country.
He continued: “Because of the way they treated Dan and my team I will never fight in New Zealand ever again - that’s why if I ever do a stadium show again, f**k it, I’ll do it in Australia.”
Adesanya commented on the rise of Australasian fighters and referenced the two fighters next to him, Volkanovski who will defend his featherweight championship against Max Holloway, and Kara-France who will challenge for the interim flyweight championship.
Adesanya: “I’m telling you right now, take a look at this, one, two, three (potential) champions, and it’s all coming from this side of the world.
“Australia, little old New Zealand, it’s what we’re doing, what a time to be alive.”
The champ has made similar comments in the past where he has vowed to never fight on home soil again after the Covid-19 pandemic.
On his official YouTube channel, the MMA star said: “You will never see me fight in New Zealand ever again.
"All that money, they can get it from somewhere else. Their rugbys, their crickets and all the others they're giving exemptions to, but you will never ever see me fight on these shores [again].
"That was one of my dreams, to headline a stadium in my backyard. That dream's dead in the water ... that's just the way I feel right now"