Mixed martial arts: BMW abandons Israel Adesanya as ambassador after threats of rape on social networks
The apology follows backlash from anti-rape groups and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.
On Thursday, the Minister of Sports and Recreation said no one should make “jokes or flippant comments” on such a topic.
“I’m sure Israel understands that, I think they deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC to decide what they do,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“But I would certainly convey to him – and anyone for that matter – that we need to take rape seriously. It’s not an issue that anyone should make jokes or flippant comments about.”
On Thursday, Adesanya sounded provocative in her comments, tweeting “Incoming clickbait NZ media in 3, 2, 1…”, accompanied by a GIF of a man eating popcorn.
He followed up with another tweet, saying it was “all about influence.”
Since his promotional debut in early 2018, Adesanya has established himself as one of the UFC’s most marketable fighters.
He was billed as EA Sports’ UFC video game cover athlete and recently signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with sportswear giants Puma.
The 31-year-old has amassed a huge social media following, with more than 4.6 million followers on Instagram and 866,000 on Twitter.
Reigning UFC middleweight world champion Adesanya lost his first professional MMA fight earlier this month, falling by unanimous decision to Jan Blachowicz in an attempt to win the light heavyweight belt.