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Who is Israel Adesanya who Drake betted $900,000 on?

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drake bet israel adesanya
Canadian rapper Drake with UFC fighter Israel Adesanya. Photo/Vanguard News
  • Drake, an award-winning Canadian rapper placed a $900,000 (£725,000) bet on Adesanya
  • Adesanya is a Nigerian-born UFC fighter now based in New Zealand
  • His family moved to New Zealand when he was just 10 years old

A high-stakes bet by Canadian rapper Drake on UFC fighter Israel Adesanya last weekend against Alex Pereira paid off handsomely.

His bet thrust Adesanya to the limelight. But who is the man enjoying newly-found fame in UFC circles? Israel Adesanya is a Nigerian-born UFC fighter who grew up in New Zealand. He is qualified kickboxer, mixed martial artist, and a retired boxer with victory titles in each of these disciplines.

His family moved to New Zealand when he was only 10 years old and many people always wonder why he left Nigeria. Adesanya has been gracious in the past to explain why his family left Nigeria. He told Steven Bartlett in his podcast ‘The Diary of a CEO’ that his parents chose New Zealand because the education system is better recognized across Europe.

“When I’m in New Zealand, sometimes I’ll be… talking to a cab driver and I find out that he was a medical doctor back in Sri Lanka or back in India and then moved over to NZ or the ‘western world’ for ‘better life’ and their qualifications aren’t recognized in the western world,” he said.

Nevertheless, he pursued an entirely different career in sports as a fighter and not as an academic. He doesn’t regret it though although he admits that being in New Zealand is the best decision his parents ever made.

This history explains the bet which Drake made for Israel Adesanya.


drake adesanya bet

Canadian rapper Drake. Photo/Your truly

Drake, an award-winning Canadian rapper placed a $900,000 (£725,000) bet on Adesanya in his middleweight title UFC fight with Pereira. Adesanya won back the 185-pound championship at UFC 281 after losing it in November 2022 to Pereira.

The rapper, 36, placed two separate bets on Adesanya each worth £323,000 ($400,000). He had complete faith in the New Zealander. Following Adesanya’s stunning second round knockout of Pereira in Miami, the Canadian won $2.7m (£2.17 million) from his two high stake bets.

Adesanya recovered from a shaky start and barrage of strikes in the first round to push Pereira to the ground with a powerful right. Incidentally, Drake lost £1.28 million ($1.6 million) backing Adesanya in their previous fight at UFC 281, where the former ultimately fell to the Brazilian on the first try.

During the rematch, Drake was all smiles as he crawled back $2.7m as profit from his bet. However, Drake lost $500,000 in two other bets he placed on UFC fighters Gilbert Burn and Jorge Masvidal.

His prediction was for Masvidal to defeat Burns on knockout but things went south.  Masvidal announced his retirement from UFC after losing to Burns. This wasn’t the first expensive bet Drake lost a huge stake in. His memorable loss is that of Jake Paul to knock out Tommy Fury in a UFC fight in Saudi Arabia but it never happened as he thought. He lost $400,000 but he never grows weary even with these losses.


Israel Adesanya alex pereira

Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira. Photo/Fighters Only

Israel Adesanya equally made good money just like Drake. He reportedly made $2.6 million from defeating Pereira who he previously lost to in November last year.

He had this to say after the win according to Daily Mail.

“Shoutout to everyone that bet on me but you have to realise that when I step into the octagon I put my life on the line. That’s the biggest parlay you can ever do. I’m a betting man too so shoutout to stake, we are about to make another deal and get more money,” he said.

In a rejoinder following his loss, Pereira said that his defeat is a small hurdle in his career.

“All the people who are following me since kickboxing, they know I am a hard worker and dedicated. I never quit. And for the people who arrived now, it’s a new phase: MMA, UFC. You can wonder ‘How will this guy come back?’ Guys, I promise you, I’m going to come firm and strong. I’m going to come stronger than ever. You can write this down!”,” he said on Alex Poatan Pereira YouTube page.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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