How has Israel Adesanya transformed into a marketing powerhouse?

Israel has made a significant name for himself with 21 fights in his MMA career. Even though he suffered his first loss at UFC259 against light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz, Adesanya has gained much respect for his courage to step out of his traditional weight class. He’s proven to be a decorated striker, a cultural phenomenon and an influential figure for the UFC. So, let’s explore the impact these assets have on his marketability.

The story of Adesanya

New UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya was just 10 when his family uprooted him from Nigeria to an all-white school in New Zealand (pictured with family): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7544807/How-racist-abuse-petty-bar-fight-inspired-Nigerian-teenager-living-New-Zealand-UFC-stardom.html

Izzy was born in Nigeria but raised in New Zealand. As a youngster, he pursued kickboxing, where he fought multiple times in China. Now, he’s an established global MMA star.

Adesanya brands himself as ‘The Last Stylebender’. The Nickelodeon show, Avatar, influences this. He’s also openly expressed his passion for anime and how it energises him when stepping into the Octagon. Israel’s mentioned he’d drawn strength from the Japanese manga series Naruto. He was encouraged by the characters upbringing, will power and morals. Izzy’s anime passion could stretch to his post-MMA dream to own a production company.  

Anime and UFC content acquire over 100 million viewers worldwide. Adesanya’s uniquely drawn two diverse audiences together through his personal interests, which could lead towards monetisation opportunities.  

The Pay-Per-View keeps rising

UFC259 featuring Adesanya vs Blachowicz accumulated 800,000 international Pay-Per-View (PPV) buys, which held two other title fights. Before UFC259, he beat Brazilian MMA fighter Paulo Costa, which gained 700,000 PPV sales. The rise in sales demonstrates the last stylebender is becoming a pivotal figure for MMA’s leading competition.

Puma deal

The Nigerian born had become the first MMA fighter to pick up a deal with Puma last year. Izzy now joins a high-profile roster of athletes sponsored by Puma, including Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero, US golfer Lexi Thompson and NBA star Kyle Kuzma. Previously, it was seen as unattractive to support a UFC star.

The sportswear brand intends to utilise Israel in its global marketing activities by promoting their and Izzy’s shared-values of pushing boundaries, remaining innovative and staying authentic.

This deal sees the 20-1 fighter’s net worth sitting in the $2 million region. This collaboration opens doors for other upcoming UFC fighters to secure contracts with significant sports properties, which has previously been a challenge.

Unfiltered Authenticity

UFC sponsor, Monster Energy, has received much critique from some fighters, particularly Israel Adesanya. A clip emerged from the Adesanya vs Whittaker card, which presented Izzy whack a monster energy drink on his table out of sight. Allegedly, Monster Energy associate, Hans Molenkamp, has tried persuading Adesanya and some other fighters to promote the brand in counterfeit ways.

Adesanya has unassociated himself with Monster to honour his integrity. This doesn’t only set a positive example for his audience to value personal honesty. It can attract significant brands like Puma to correlate themselves with the 20-1 fighter due to his truthfulness.

Izzy’s recently signed up for a sexual content subscription service, OnlyFans. This platform’s creators can share exclusive videos, photos, and direct messages with their users for a fixed price. It’s arguably not the most authentic move. However, it’s a compelling incentive to gain monetisation.

Nigerian and New Zealand heritage

Israel Adesanya and his team pose for a portrait backstage after his UFC 248 victory. Photo / Getty

Israel’s roots stem from two countries that are over 16,000 km from each other, New Zealand and Nigeria. Both cultures are substantially diverse. However, Adesanya once again combining two audiences to embrace his representation in combat sport.

Izzy often embraces his Nigerian roots in the Octagon through his breakdancing entrances, speaking the native language and walking out to Nigerian music. He pays much homage to his homeland as he visits local communities across the country.  

Cultural sensitivity has become a significant driver for commercial brand awareness. Izzy brings two completely different regions together, contributing to his growing media image. 

Global brand ambassador for Stake.com

Israel Adesanya x Stake.com brand ambassador announcement: https://insidersport.com/2021/01/20/the-ufcs-middleweight-king-combines-with-stake-com/

The Nigerian and New Zealand native has recently become the global brand ambassador for crypto sports betting site, Stake.com. He’ll support the betting operative by promoting multiple sponsorship activations, including betting offers, VIP experiences and exclusive appearances.

The come up of both Adesanya and Stake.com has been meteoric. Stake.com are one of the leading operators in the newly emerged sports crypto space, similarly with Adesanya being the UFC’s cash cow. This keeps Izzy as a pivotal figure for the UFC to capitalise on the emerging sports trading era, further amplifying his global brand power.


So, how has Israel Adesanya become a marketing powerhouse? He remains true to himself; he embraces his diverse nationality through his sporting story and champions his passion for anime, opening doors for upcoming fighters to follow in his footsteps.

Published by Ash

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: