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‘Gaslighting or lying’: UFC star Adesanya slams NZ PM Ardern over quarantine rules after vowing never to fight in country again

‘Gaslighting or lying’: UFC star Adesanya slams NZ PM Ardern over quarantine rules after vowing never to fight in country again
UFC champion Israel Adesanya has accused New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern of 'gaslighting' after she said MMA fighters aren't treated differently to other athletes when it comes to mandatory quarantine.

Adesanya announced this week his intention to emigrate from his home country to the United States, a move taken by 'The Last Stylebender' in part due to harsh 'managed isolation and quarantine' (MIQ) protocols currently in place in New Zealand which have made it difficult for fighters to obtain visas to compete overseas.

The measure, which is designed to curb transmissions of Covid-19 in New Zealand, has also seen so-called 'lockdown bubbles' removed, making it increasingly difficult for some of the country's high-profile MMA stars to train for upcoming fights, as well the MIQ system adding concerns that a fighter's return to New Zealand could be delayed indefinitely while they await MIQ clearance. 

Ardern, for her part, said that the likes of Adesanya and his City Kickboxing teammate Dan Hooker haven't been unfairly targeted by the MIQ requirements.

"I certainly would not expect there to be a difference in the way our sportspeople were treated," the leader was quoted as saying. 

"Having seen some of those comments, I see there is a wide range of issues there and there’s no doubt that managed isolation does make it hard to come and go from New Zealand and to travel when you have a role that requires travel.

"So I absolutely acknowledge and understand that but I hope that all our sportspeople feel that under the circumstances we’re in that everyone has fair treatment even though we’ve got tight borders."

Adesanya, though, isn't exactly on board with what he sees as an oppressive system which has mandated his move to the United States for the benefit of his career.

"This feels like gaslighting... or lying," wrote Adesanya on Instagram along with a picture of Ardern's face superimposed over Mike Myers' Dr. Evil character from the Austin Powers film series.

"Why you always lyyyyyiing!!" he added along with a lengthy statement from City Kickboxing explaining their position.

"We were advised we did not meet the team's eligibility criteria in terms of size nor did we meet financial eligibility criteria regarding bringing income into New Zealand. We fervently challenge both those positions," read the statement from Eugene Bareman's fight team.

"Not only are CKB athletes representatives of a national team who wear the silver fern with pride, we are also a business, which provides jobs, supports numerous families and generates significant economic benefit to the country.

"Whether this be two huge stadium shows or providing some of the highest per capita viewership of UFC events in the world, or through event and hospitality venues, gyms and lounges across New Zealand being filled with people watching one of the countries most rapidly growing sports."

They added their outspoken statement should "bring attention to the inequity in the current MIQ system and its failure.

"To proactively develop sensible solutions, provided they don’t endanger public health. Our aim is to reduce the burden on a far larger group than just ourselves," they concluded.

The MIQ system also affects UFC fighter Dan Hooker, who agreed late on Thursday to replace Rafael Dos Anjos in an upcoming fight against Russia's Islam Makhachev - even as the MIQ requirements mean that he is unsure of when he may be granted entry back into New Zealand where his wife and young family currently reside.

"I can definitely see where he (Adesanya) is coming from. He is speaking from the heart, he is upset about the situation," said Hooker of Adesanya's complaint.

"I think the powers that be showed their true colors. Sport New Zealand and the bigwigs in the media back home in New Zealand have just kind of been playing nice with us because we have been getting so much attention for the country… and then they saw an opportunity to put a lid on us or put on us, and they showed their true colors of what they really wanted to do which was to stop MMA and the UFC getting massive in New Zealand.

"But it’s a part of New Zealand culture. Combat sports is a part of our DNA in New Zealand, and we are going to push through no matter what."

Also on rt.com ‘I’m done’: UFC champ Adesanya fumes at New Zealand government Covid lockdowns and exemptions as he announces move to US

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