Israel Adesanya suffers racist abuse ahead of UFC middleweight bout

Idris Shehu

Israel Adesanya, Nigerian-New Zealander mixed martial artist, has suffered racist abuse on social media ahead of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title bout with Italy’s Marvin Vettori.

The 32-year-old shared the screenshot of the abusive message in which he was called a “monkey” on his Instagram story on Thursday.

Reacting to the deluge of offensive languages, the Lagos-born mixed martial artist wrote, “Can’t wait to visit Italy.”

Adesanya had in an interview narrated how he had been battling racist abuse since he moved to New Zealand. 


“I didn’t realize I was black until I moved here,” he said.

“I remember a kid from school kept on riding past my house and going: ‘Go back to your country, blackinese’.”

Adesanya is not the only Nigerian who has been subjected to racial abuse on social media in recent months.


In March, Simy Nwankwo, Crotone’s striker also shared screenshots of discriminatory messages sent to him on Instagram after his team’s 3-2 home loss to Bologna.

“We can only hope that more efforts will be put in to ensure the general public and not just footballers feel safe on social media platforms,” the 28-year-old had said.

In May, Semi Ajayi, Super Eagles defender, was also a victim of racism on social media after West Brom’s defeat to Liverpool during an English Premier League (EPL) encounter.

The Last Style Bender is billed to put his middleweight title on the line against Verotti on Saturday at UFC 263. 

The bout will be Adesanya’s first since his defeat to Jan Blachowicz, putting an end to his UFC unbeaten run and his dream of becoming a double-division champion.

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