Israel Adesanya may be the UFC middleweight champion. But that doesn't mean he's not a human being. And being a human being, he is just as adrift as everyone else on the scuzzy cruise ship that is the year 2020.
It's enough to make a person feel a little battered, from the inside out. But take heart. Adesanya is here to help. I somehow convinced him in a recent phone interview to share some self-care tips—tips that I now share with you, the reader, at no cost or obligation. This is quite a deal.
Because you see, Adesanya is more than his UFC title and cinema-grade striking skills. He's a thoughtful cat, one in tune with himself and the world around him. With Adesanya, training and learning don't end in the gym.
The notion of self-care is particularly hilarious here, of course, because Adesanya isn't exactly prototypical of someone who favors that mindset. You know, being an MMA fighter and all. And certainly not as Adesanya (19-0) prepared for his second title defense at Saturday's UFC 253 main event against headhunter and beach movie extra Paulo Costa (13-0).
You know these two are going to want to finish each other, and there's not a lot of ambiguity over where the fight will take place. Even before you get to Adesanya's 15 MMA knockouts, there are the 29 he notched as a kickboxer. Costa has 11 wins by knockout, with his August win over Yoel Romero being Costa's only pro fight to go the distance.
To dig even deeper into the stats, here's Paul Gift over at Bloody Elbow:
"But one I like better is that Costa has either knocked down or knocked out every opponent he’s faced inside the Octagon while Adesanya has twice as many knockdowns, knockouts, and what FightMetric calls “Damage” rounds (16 total) as he does bouts in the UFC (8).
"This should be a mostly standup affair and predominantly contested at distance where Adesanya and Costa respectively spend 4:03 and 4:33 of every five minutes. Neither has ever even attempted a takedown shot at distance, and in the clinch they’ve only combined to attempt a total of four takedowns, not completing any of them."
I'm not sure how Adesanya puts the threat out of his head, but that's exactly the point. You could probably do worse for a self-care consultant than someone whose job depends on keeping bad thoughts away. Is he a doctor, or any sort of trained professional in these areas? No. But he is a fighter, and sometimes that's enough.
Bleacher Report: You like a good TV binge. What are you watching?
Adesanya: I'm watching Westworld, which is pretty cool. It had a slow start, so not until about Episode 6 did it get crazy and the plot twists started. That's what I like. I like plot twists. And a deep story.
Bleacher Report: The world is crazy right now, for everybody. I'm sure it's particularly crazy for you as you get ready for the fight. What are your tips for staying calm?
Adesanya: I like earthing, and I like just breathing, regulate the sympathetic nervous system.
Breathing and the nervous system can put you in balance. It's kind of like meditating, only it's mainly breathing patterns. I like box breathing. It means, I don't know how to explain it. Box breathing. Google it.
Bleacher Report: Things seem to happen so fast nowadays. What's your tip for not getting overwhelmed?
Adesanya: For me a simple thing is just logging out of my Instagram. There's so much sadness out there. People are dying. There was so much sadness with [the death of film star Chadwick Boseman] and with Black people getting shot. So just logging out, I think it's a good practice.
We're all addicted to our phones and our social media. So I have to stop it and keep going. I have to turn stuff off, turn notifications off. I don't want to have to interact. There's no need to see everything people are saying all the time.
Bleacher Report: Do you have some special place you go when you want to disappear for a while?
Adesanya: I do have a safe space where I can just chill, but I'm going to keep that place to myself. I'm constructing a haven right now; a compound. I'll be able to chill here when it's done. ... [Yes] it's a house. It's on a big piece of land. I only have my dogs now but I want more animals: alpaca, pigs, chicken coop. So, yeah.