Israel Adesanya avoids jail time, harsher punishment following drunk driving incident

Israel Adesanya will be able to travel to Canada for UFC 297.
Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

In 2023, former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya lost his title to Sean Strickland but that was the last thing on his mind to close out the year.

Just 18 days before he lost his fight, Adesanya was charged with drunk driving in New Zealand. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced this week.

According to New Zealand outlet,, Adesanya was facing three months in jail and/or a $4500 fine. But he was handed down much less.

The presiding judge downplayed the crime, stating that Adesanya was “deeply embarrassed” and the alcohol levels were "low." The judge also cited Adesanya's charity work.

“You’ve bought credit on the country... I accept that in all other respects, you are an exemplary citizen," Judge Peter Winter said.

In the end, Adesanya was fined $1500, barred from driving for six months, and enter a drunk driving program.

“I am disappointed with my decision to drive. It was wrong. I know that people might follow me and I want them to know I do not think this behavior is acceptable," Adesanya said.

His lawyer, Karl Trotter said there were punishments even greater than the maximum the court could hand down including loss of sponsorships and being barred from Canada, where Adesanya hopes to attend UFC 297.

“The adverse consequences, should my client be convicted, are monumental,” Trotter said.

Dana White reacts to Israel Adesanya drunk driving incident

When the news of the arrest was made public, UFC president Dana White was asked about his former champion.

“Bad decisions, man,” White told the media at the DWCS Week 8 post-fight press conference. “No matter how many drinks you’ve had – if you drink, don’t drive. Especially, it’s one thing, Ubering is easy, but when you have that kind of money that kid has, get a driver. Have somebody drive you or Uber or whatever."

He continued, “He made a bad decision. Thank God nobody was hurt. Him or nobody else. You know what I say about mistakes: How do you handle them after you make them? Hopefully, that’s a one-and-done for him, and he never does it again."


Next. 5 of the best submissions in 2023. 5 of the best submissions in 2023. dark