On the latest episode of Hot Ones, MMA fighter Israel Adesanya broke down how anime has inspired him.
“In so many different ways, it’s helped me tell my own story, be the protagonist in my own story,” he said at the 13-minute point of the episode, noting how Naruto in particular has inspired his fighting. “I’ve already seen the setup for my next storyline, the hunter becomes the hunted. Certain characters and animes, I draw inspiration from. Like when Gai Sensei, who is Rock Lee’s master, when he opened the 8th gate… I cried actually when that moment happened, it’s just inspiring.”
As for critics who would laugh at him for loving anime at his age, he’s not concerned. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re 33,’” he said. “Oh fucking hell, you still trying to rap. Shut up.”
Elsewhere in the interview, he gave his thoughts on which movie best encapsulates the experience of being a fighter. “Ong-Bak was a movie I watched—That’s a movie I felt made Muay Thai mainstream to the world,” he said, referring to the 2003 Thai martial arts filming starring acclaimed martial artist Tony Jaa. “[Another] one of my favorites is Drunken Master, with Jackie Chan. That was a good one as well, classic.”
He went on to praise Jackie Chan, and his ability to bring humor into his fight scenes. “It invokes the right emotion out of me,” he said. “It’s crazy, and he did most of his own stunts. He was Tom Cruise before Tom Cruise.”
Watch the full Hot Ones interview with Adesanya above.