We reveal the inside story to one of Australia’s most unlikely boxing yarns and the day a tradie beat the Kiwi who would become a UFC legend.

Daniel Ammann says he knew nothing about the rangy, New Zealand boxer stood opposite him until that right hand, it first landed.

“And buckled me,” he laughs.


“I wasn’t hurt,” the Newcastle construction worker continues, kicked back this particular Monday on a bench after knock off.

“But there was definitely a ‘flash’.

“I can remember doing a little side wobble and thinking ‘oh, shit … keep your hands up’

“But until that moment I had no idea who Israel Adesanya was.”

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Seated now outside his family home in Stockton – one shared with his wife, three kids, mortgage, all the usual stuff — Ammann is recalling the night he took on, and beat, a UFC megastar.

Although first, one request.

“Please don’t make out like I’m bragging,” says the retired southpaw who, no stranger to Aussie fight fans, twice held the national cruiserweight title among his 32 wins.

“Because that fight, it was Adesanya’s pro boxing debut.

“Over three rounds.

“And in the years since, he’s obviously gone to a whole new level. Killing it.

“So for me, this is just a story my mates ask about.”

Which is exactly why we want to tell it, too.

Especially given how since throwing down at that 2014 Super 8s boxing tournament in Auckland, Adesanya has risen up to become the undisputed UFC middleweight king.

A breakout New Zealand superstar who, set to headline UFC 276 in Las Vegas this Sunday, is also known among the wider Australian sports audience given his two victories over our own inaugural UFC champ, Robert Whittaker.

In fact, in 104 professional appearances as an MMA fighter, kick boxer and boxer, The Last Stylebender has lost just seven times.

One of those, to Ammann.

With two more coming against UFC newbie Alex Pereira, an exciting Brazilian kickboxer who — thanks largely to that very storyline — is not only fighting on Sunday’s massive undercard too, but potentially in line for Adesanya should he win.

Which is why now five years retired, and despite rarely watching UFC events live these days, 39-year-old Ammann says, fight day, he will definitely be tuning in to Main Event.

“Because with Alexander Volkanovski defending too, the card is stacked,” he says.

First turning professional way back in 2005, Ammann enjoyed a memorable career that, at its peak, saw him fight Englishman Tony Conquest for the Commonwealth cruiserweight title.

Elsewhere, this gutsy Novocastrian also went the distance with Shane Cameron, stopped Pieter Cronje inside nine, and beat David Aloua before 25,000 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre – on the undercard of Geale-Mundine II.

But as for the fight he gets asked about most?


“Who I hadn’t heard of before we fought,” he concedes. “Although once I arrived in New Zealand, there were some saying my opponent was an accomplished kick boxer …”

Wasn’t he what?

On that opening night of a boxing career which quickly improved to 5-1, Adesanya had already fought 40 times as a professional kickboxer – losing just twice – while also boasting over 30 successes in the amateurs.

“So he was a debutant with more experience than me,” Ammann laughs, recalling how eight cruiserweights competed in the knockout-style tournament where, to claim the $50,000 prize, you had to win three times in one night.

Which neither Ammann or Adesanya did.

With the southpaw, after beating the Kiwi, then losing by decision to countryman Brad Pitt, leaving him to walk away with no cash but a yarn far more relevant now, eight years on.

“And Adesanya won the first round,” Ammann recalls.

“But after that first punch, I knew he was a faster, more agile specimen than me. So I crowded him, pressured him and eventually won a close one.

“And while it’s not my biggest accomplishment, or hardest fight, he’s definitely that opponent people want to talk about.”

A truth proved as quickly as the following year.

When both men returned for another Super 8s tournament where, for the new prize of $20,000 and a car, Ammann again fell one fight short of the finale.

But Adesanya?

“Went well,” the tradie grins. “And got himself that car”.

Originally published as UFC 276: How Newcastle tradie Daniel Ammann beat Israel Adesanya

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