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You Need to Watch This UFC Fighter Dance His Way to the Ring

Israel Adesanya is a gifted Nigerian-New Zealander mixed martial artist who, on Saturday night, became the Ultimate Fighting Championship's middleweight champion.

But why are we, over here at Dance Spirit, obsessed with Adesanya? Because he's also a really, really great dancer. And on Saturday—after a long battle with UFC officials outside the ring—he was finally allowed to show off his dance skills during a fight entrance.


The UFC is apparently "notoriously no fun" about fighter entrances, frowning on WWE-style video packages and theatrics. But Adesanya, who actually started out as a dancer and came to fighting relatively late, pushed for months to loosen the rules.

The result was Saturday night's instantly iconic walk-out:

MMA experts have noted that Adesanya's dance skills work to his advantage in the ring, too: He's a fighter of singular grace and finesse.

"You gotta realize this is the spectacle, this is a big stadium," Adesanya said at Saturday's post-fight press conference. "I have to give them a show and set the tone. And there's no one like me. No one."

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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