10 Nov 2020

Adesanya aims to shine light on managed isolation issue

8:57 pm on 10 November 2020

The reigning New Zealand sportsman of the year Israel Adesanya hopes publicly revealing his troubles with returning from overseas will help other Kiwis in more serious situations.

Israel Adesanya is set to spend Christmas in quarantine.

Israel Adesanya is set to spend Christmas in quarantine. Photo: Photosport

The UFC middleweight world champion and fellow Kiwi UFC fighters Brad Riddell and Carlos Ulberg are stuck in the US after the latter had a fight in Las Vegas last week.

Scheduled to arrive back in the country on Monday, the team-mates would now spend Christmas Day in quarantine because they weren't able to secure a place in managed isolation earlier than mid December.

A new system was introduced while the trio were away, with all returnees to New Zealand needing to have a managed isolation voucher before being allowed to board a flight.

City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman said his fighters weren't made aware of the issue while in the US and, although he supported the need for strict border controls, he felt the government's communication could have been better.

Bareman said Adesanya, Riddell and Ulberg were gutted to have their return delayed but that wasn't why they were making their frustrations public.

"A big part of why they wanted to release this was because of those people that are in more dire situations than them.

"They felt, especially Israel, he felt that he could bring a little bit of attention through his voice to some of those other situations that it might in helping those situations.

"[There are] people who have loved ones that they have to get back to that are sick and people that need operations overseas that are stuck overseas and can't get into New Zealand to have the operations.

"That really brings it into perspective and helps [the three fighters] move on and try to frame it in their mind a little differently. For the most part, they're going to make the best of the situation."

That situation was more than a month extra in the US.

The delay came with Riddell's partner seven months pregnant with the pair's first child, while Ulberg faced the loss of employment.

Adesanya and Ulberg would also not be around to spar with and otherwise assist team-mate Junior Fa ahead of his heavyweight boxing clash with Joseph Parker next month.

Eugene Bareman (left) and Israel Adesanya.

Eugene Bareman (left) and Israel Adesanya. Photo: Photosport

The other implication was that Adesanya may have to delay his next fight.

A planned match-up against UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz was the works for around February but Bareman said that timeline might get pushed out.

"Training for that fight would be occurring this year. The fundamental training, the beginning stages of that training would be happening right now.

"It's so early so it's not to say that we can't make that up again but definitely that affects it a little bit for sure."

Adesanya, Riddell and Ulberg had been relatively safe from Covid-19 risks while in Las Vegas, staying at a hotel being used by the UFC as a quarantine facility.

But that was no longer the case, with the trio now heading south to San Diego, where they would be able to continue training at a gym CKB was affiliated to.

Bareman said they were acutely aware of the risks associated with staying longer than expected in a country the struggles continued to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've talked about just restricting our movements [to] the hotel and the gym.

"When they need food, to bring the food in through Uber Eats or they send a designated person to go and get the food and then they take all the measures while they're out in public.

"We're taking as many measures as we can, to be honest."