Israel Adesanya referenced late movie star Chadwick Boseman when he fronted media after his UFC 281 defeat last night where he lost his middleweight title to Brazilian Alex Pereira.
Pereira, in only his fifth MMA fight, earned a TKO victory in the fifth and final round at Madison Square Garden after being dominated by Adesanya over the first four.
It means the Kiwi has now lost to Pereira three times; the Brazilian beat him twice before in kickboxing bouts and is the only man to stop Adesanya in combat sports.
At a post-fight media conference Adesanya brought up an ongoing medical issue when asked what his plans are now and when will he fight again.
"I mean, I don’t disclose everything. I’ve had some stuff that, you know, some medical stuff that I’ve just put on the back burner. It was stuff that people make fun of me for," he said.
"I mean, yeah, I just got to look after myself because my health comes first. Even think about Chadwick Boseman when everyone was making fun of him.
"All he looks. So this. He looks so skinny. He looks so sleepy. Not knowing, behind the scenes, he was fighting cancer.
"People always make fun of me about, you know, my and my chest and other things, but they don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m going through in life, but I just keep everything on the back burner, so I just have some things to fix first and yeah, I’ll be back."
Adesanya has previously had issues with a swollen chest which he put down to "unhealthy" lifestyle choices, including smoking marijuana.
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died in 2020 at 43 after a private battle with cancer.