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The Weekly Takedown: Idris Elba on 'The Wire,' Israel Adesanya being the 'GOAT'

The award-winning actor gives flowers to Israel Adesanya and Jon Jones.

Welcome to The Weekly Takedown, Sports Illustrated’s in-depth look at MMA. Every week, this column offers insight and information on the most noteworthy stories in the fight world.

On The Wire, it was Avon Barksdale who had the boxing pedigree. His No. 2, Stringer Bell, was also tough, yet his plan was to flourish as a business mogul.

In real-life, the man who played Bell–Idris Elba–is a passionate fight fan.

While Elba once believed that the mantle of best in the world belonged to Jon Jones, he now feels it rests in the sole possession of reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

"Jones is pretty dope," said Elba. "But Israel Adesanya is the GOAT right now."

Elba's affinity for the fight game even led to accepting a project for the Discovery Channel, "Idris Elba: Fighter," where he trained for 12 months in preparation for his kickboxing debut. Though his career only consists of one fight, it ended in victory when he defeated Lionel Graves in August of 2016. As a master of his craft in acting, Elba has a particularly deep respect for Adesanya and the way he approaches his work.

"He's such a great, great fighter," said Elba. "Super agile, incredibly disciplined, and fierce with his strikes. I'm big into watching him."

This June will mark 20 years since "The Wire" debuted on HBO. The show remains cutting edge, using the setting of Baltimore, Md., to poignantly capture the bankruptcy of institutions, organizations, and people throughout modern-day society. The show's subtlety, nuance, and depth were highlighted in the first three of its five seasons by Elba's multifaceted Stringer Bell, a character he played in masterful fashion.

Although "The Wire" continues to age like a fine wine, remaining as relevant as ever despite the passing of two decades, Elba says he has yet to watch the show in its entirety.

"In truth, to this day, I’ve never really watched 'The Wire,'" Elba said. "I haven't seen it – I'm not very good at watching myself. But I'm always really touched when people talk about the performance and, essentially, the whole show."

Elba still marvels at what the cast of "The Wire" created, which included career-defining performances from Dominic West as Jimmy McNulty, Wendell Pierce as Bunk, Wood Harris as Barksdale, and Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs. The show also benefited from every scene featuring the legendary Michael K. Williams, who brought Omar Little to life and completely redefined how a generation of viewers react upon hearing the childhood classic "The Farmer and The Dell."

"Wow, the late, great Michael K. Williams," said Elba, reminiscing about his castmate that passed away unexpectedly last September. "He was one of the most incredible actors, and one of the only actors in the world that made me nervous to work with.

"Just this reflection makes me want to revisit the scenes that he and I did. He was so good and so in the moment."

Elba also put the word out about his new "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" film, which opened Friday in theaters. He plays the role of Knuckles in a star-studded cast that also includes Jim Carrey, and the film is a chance for him to add another layer to the depth of his wide acting range through his voice work – a proposition he found quite appealing.

"There is quite a big storyline here, and it’s multi-generational," Elba said. "It's really great when a film like Sonic does a second one. If you enjoyed the first one, you're going to love the second one. It's amplified. Also, you've got the introduction of a beloved character like Knuckles, which really opens up the story. It’s a great family film."

UFC 273 features the start of a new pay bonus for fighters

Beginning this Saturday at UFC 273, a "Fight Night" bonus will be awarded to fighters in bitcoin.

Crypto.com is the new cryptocurrency partner of UFC, and it will award three bitcoin bonuses as part of the new "Fan Bonus of the Night."

The bitcoin payouts range from $30,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place. This will be in addition to the already existing Fight of the Night and Performance bonuses.

"Crypto.com has been an official UFC partner for less than a year, and I'm telling you, they are already one of the best partners we've ever had," UFC president Dana White said. "They're constantly coming up with new ideas about how we can work together to connect with the fans. This new 'Fan Bonus of the Night' is an awesome way to get fans more engaged in our events while rewarding the fighters for bad-ass performances.”

The "Fan Bonus of the Night" will take place on Crypto.com/FanBonus and will be open across the globe. Voting opens at the start of the 273 pay-per-view and ends an hour after the conclusion of the main event.

The Pick 'Em Section:

Here are my picks for UFC 273:

UFC 273 featherweight title bout: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung

  • Pick: Alexander Volkanovski

UFC 273 bantamweight title unification bout: Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan

  • Pick: Aljamain Sterling

UFC 273 welterweight bout: Gilbert Burns vs. Khamzat Chimaev

  • Pick: Khamzat Chimaev

UFC 273 women's strawweight bout: Mackenzie Dern vs. Tecia Torres

  • Pick: Mackenzie Dern

UFC 273 lightweight bout: Vinc Pichel vs. Mark Madsen

  • Pick: Vinc Pichel

Last week: 4-1
2022 record: 44-16

This story first published at SI.com.