Israel Adesanya, the former UFC middleweight champion, recently faced legal challenges due to a drink-driving incident but managed to avoid a criminal conviction.
In September, Adesanya admitted guilt to driving in Auckland, New Zealand, with a blood alcohol level of 87 milligrams per 100 milliliters, surpassing the country’s legal limit of 50 milligrams. This offense could have led to a three-month imprisonment and a fine of up to $4,500.
However, during a court session on Tuesday, the New Zealand Herald reported that Judge Peter Winter chose not to convict Adesanya. Instead, he suspended Adesanya’s driving license for half a year, instructed him to donate $1,500 to a charity, and mandated his participation in a program aimed at preventing drunk driving.
Adesanya’s attorney, Karl Trotter, argued that a conviction would cost Adesanya significantly in lost endorsement earnings, potentially amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, a conviction would complicate Adesanya’s travel plans to Canada for promotional activities at UFC 297 in Toronto the following week.
Trotter highlighted the severe repercussions of a conviction in Adesanya’s drink-driving case. “The adverse consequences, should my client be convicted, are monumental. That’s not exaggerating the situation,” said Trotter. He also pointed out Adesanya’s awareness of the risks, noting, “He realizes he is in jeopardy.”
Judge Peter Winter, presiding over Israel Adesanya’s drink-driving case, concluded that a full conviction and the maximum penalty were excessive for the offense. This decision was made despite opposition from police prosecutor Samara Wakefield, who argued against discharging Adesanya without a conviction.
Addressing Adesanya in court, Judge Winter expressed his belief that Adesanya had learned a valuable lesson, saying, “I’m sure you have learned from this. You would not want to be placed in this position again, as you realize.”
Adesanya, following his arrest, admitted to driving after consuming two cocktails at dinner. He expressed regret for his actions, stating, “I am disappointed with my decision to drive. It was wrong.”
This incident occurred just three weeks before Adesanya’s title bout against Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia. In that match, Strickland secured a victory over Adesanya, winning the middleweight championship after a dominant 25-minute performance. After his defeat, Adesanya announced plans for a break, but he has since hinted at a return to fighting. He is anticipated to be present at UFC 297, where he will watch Strickland defend the title against Dricu Du Plessis in the main event.