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UFC star Israel Adesanya says he "crossed the line" after threatening to rape middleweight rival Kevin Holland.
Adesanya has been slammed for his shocking taunt to Holland in a now-deleted post on Instagram.
He told Holland: "Bro, I will f**king rape you."
The UFC champion has since addressed the situation, admitting he took things too far during a trash-talking session on social media.
"Last weekend fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed the line," the statement reads.
"I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was NEVER my intention.
"I am still to growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure."
New Zealand's deputy prime minister Grant Robertson hit out at Adesanya's rape comment.
He said: "There is never a time to make flippant comments about rape. It's just not something anybody should do.
"I'm sure Israel understands that. I believe he has deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do.
"But I would certainly be making clear to him, and to anybody actually, that we have to take rape seriously.
"It's not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all."
'The Last Stylebender' is coming off a loss - his first of his MMA career- in his most recent fight.
Adesanya, who is one of the biggest stars in the promotion, is eyeing a defence of his UFC middleweight title next.
As for Holland, his five-fight win streak was snapped by Derek Brunson last weekend.
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