UFC star Israel Adesanya was forced to backtrack and apologize Thursday for his trash-talking toward Kevin Holland, which included a comment about rape.
Adesanya was responding to Holland’s own remarks in a since-deleted Instagram video. According to MMA Junkie, the middleweight champion said he would “f—king rape” Holland.
The comment drew the attention of New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. Adesanya, who was born in Nigeria, lives in New Zealand.
“There is never a time to make flippant comments about rape,” Robertson told Radio New Zealand. “It’s just not something anybody should do. I am sure Israel understands that. I believe he has deleted [the post] in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do.
“It is not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all.”
Adesanya apologized for the remark after facing Robertson’s condemnation.
“Last weekend fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed the line,” he wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was NEVER my intention. I am still growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure.”
MMA Junkie also noted that Adesanya has a history of controversial statements. The UFC 4 cover star said in February 2020 that Yoel Romero was going to “crumble like the Twin Towers.” He also apologized for that and said he would be “more careful” with his future words.