Israel Adesanya issues apology following ill-advised 9/11 joke

Received harsh criticism and threats: "I will really kill you, dirty kiwi"

Some topics will always be taboo to joke about or reference, and thereby best kept avoided. This is something UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya was reminded of after referencing the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The situation arose during the UFC 248 pre-fight press conference. At UFC 248, which takes place March 7th in Las Vegas, Adesanya will defend his title against dangerous and explosive Cuban Yoel Romero. The former Olympian wrestler Romero is one of the most avoided fighters on the UFC roster, holding vicious knockout wins over many of the middleweight divisions best. Adesanya began addressing how his opponent is perceived, leading to the ill-advised reference of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“He’s human like anyone else, and everyone likes to make this myth about, ‘Oh, he’s steel, like kicking steel,’ or you hit him and he doesn’t fall,” Adesanya said at the UFC 248 pre-fight press conference. “I’ll touch him enough times.

“I’ll touch him enough times and eventually he’ll crumble like the Twin Towers.”

On September 11th, 2001, a series of attacks was carried out against the USA by the terrorist organisation Al-Qaida. The most devastating of which involved hijacking passenger air planes and flying them into the Twin Towers in New York City, destroying the buildings and killing thousands of people.


These comments by Adesanya led to swift criticism for him being insensitive to the situation. The harshest critique came from top ranked middleweight and vicious rival Paulo Costa, who took to twitter to led Adesanya have it.

“Adesanya You are a disgusting piece of shit,” Costa wrote. “How dare you make a joke disrespecting the thousands who died and the heroic firefighters and police.I will really kill you, dirty kiwi”

After the intense wave of scrutiny Adesanya faced, he then issued a public apology on his Instagram story.

“I never made a joke about people dying or made light of the tragic event that was 9/11,” Adesanya wrote. “I was simply rambling and my brain worked faster than my mouth in a moment to chose the wrong euphemism. You speak on the mic enough times and you’re bound to miss the mark with some bars.

“I did on this one and for that I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful in future with my words.”

It was somewhat surprising that Costa, who is Brazilian, would take such offence regarding Adesanya’s comments. Though the two have had a bitter rivalry that stretches back to before Adesanya became champion. If Adesanya defeats Romero at UFC 248, Costa is sure to have the next shot at the title. He was actually supposed to be the first title defence of Adesanya’s UFC career, but was forced out of the bout with an injury.

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With roots in muay thai and as an avid combat sports fan, Sebastian Vendel-Martinez grew up while the MMA scene was blossoming in Sweden. He became part of the MMAnytt team in 2012 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent MMA reporters in Scandinavia. Currently he continues to work as a writer, reporter, video producer/editor and head editor for MMAnytt.com