UFC star Israel Adesanya has apologised for his controversial "rape" remark that sparked outrage in his native New Zealand.
The UFC middleweight champion - who lost his first professional fight against light heavyweight title-holder Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 earlier this month - admits he "crossed the line" after firing back at a rival fighter's recent taunt.
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The controversy started after middleweight contender Kevin Holland called Adesanya a "true loser" in the wake of the defeat - prompting an angry retort from the Kiwi.
Adesanya responded to Holland's barb in a since-delated Instagram story by declaring: "Bro, I’ll f***ing rape you.”
As backlash over his comment mounted in New Zealand and on social media, Adesanya appeared to dismiss it as "clickbait."
That was before New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson stepped in.
Robertson, who is also the nation's sports minister, condemned Adesanya's rape comment in an interview with Radio New Zealand on Thursday.
"There is never a time to make flippant comments about rape," Robertson said.
"It's just not something anybody should do. "I am sure Israel understands that. I believe he has deleted [the post] in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do. ...
"It is not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all."
UFC star acted inappropriately 'under pressure'
Despite initially appearing to brush of the comment as "click bait", Adesanya has now issued an apology for his remark on social media.
“Last weekend fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed the line," he posted.
"I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was NEVER my intention.
"I am still to growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure.”
It's not the first time Adesanya has sparked outrage with the wrong choice of words while attempting to trash-talk a rival fighter.
The Kiwi star was also forced to apologise for comments before his fight against Yoel Romero in March 2020, when he said the Cuban would “crumble like the Twin Towers".
The comments about the September 11 terror attack on New York drew widespread criticism, prompting Adesanya to stress that he would "be more careful" with what he said in the future.
with Yahoo Sports US
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