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Morning Report: Israel Adesanya: ‘One-dimensional’ Alex Pereira is ‘not as smart as me in the cage’

MMA: JUL 02 UFC 276 Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Israel Adesanya views his next fight as his biggest yet.

The story is clear ahead of UFC 281. New Zealand’s reigning middleweight kingpin Adesanya is seeking redemption after being bested on two different occasions in kickboxing against his Brazilian counterpart, Alex Pereira. For part three of their rivalry, they’ll do battle under MMA rules in the cage on the grandest stage for the most prestigious title.

Pereira worked his way to title challenger status with only three wins under his belt in the promotion and six total in seven fights. While Adesanya is treating the fight with a great magnitude, he feels he’s fought stiffer challengers than his kickboxing successor.

“No, I don’t think [he presents the toughest challenge],” Adesanya told ESPN. “He’s very one-dimensional. He’s early on in this game as well so I’m even glad to get him now. I don’t know who he has in his corner. I know he has Glover [Teixeira] and his boxing coach. I don’t know what their background is, I don’t really mind, I just worry about me. I definitely know he’s not as smart as me in the cage. I know that for a fact.”

Banter hasn’t been too abundant between the parties involved in UFC 281’s main event, but “Poatan” has certainly played along a bit with the jabs at “The Last Stylebender. Pereira has posted videos to his social media accounts mocking some of Adesanya’s training techniques and as recently as this fight week posted a picture of himself with an Elsa from Frozen mascot — a shot at a past quote of Adesanya’s.

It’s not the first time Adesanya has dealt with an opponent trying to get under his skin. Ultimately, the champion is finding it as abnormal as some of the past cases dealt with.

“It’s giving [me] Robert Whittaker before UFC 243 [vibes],” Adesanya said. “I said the same thing, I’m like, ‘You’re acting out of character.’ It’s giving [Paulo] Costa vibes as well before [UFC] 253. I was like why are you making all these skits? But yeah, I didn’t say anything back, I don’t react. You’re asking me about it now so I have to respond, but I’m not going to respond properly until we’re in that octagon then I’ll respond properly. When I respond properly, he’ll understand what I’m saying.”

A Pereira win will be title defense No. 6 officially for Adesanya, leaving him with some intriguingly minimal options for challengers at middleweight afterward. In his 24-fight MMA career, Adesanya’s lone defeat came in his attempt to capture light heavyweight gold against Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. The champion intends on trying 205 pounds again in the future whether it’s for the belt or not.

“I will do another side mission [at light heavyweight], even without the belt,” Adesanya said. “Just to have that win at 205 and then just say I did it, you know?” Adesanya said. “That’d be fun because I know I can do it. I just want to tick that one off then come back to 185 and rule with my iron black fist.”


TOP STORIES

News. Cain Velasquez granted bail at $1 million pending trial, faces 10 counts including premeditated attempted murder

Response. ‘About damn time’: Fighters react to Cain Velasquez being granted bail in attempted murder case

Roundtable. MMA Fighting discusses if Alex Pereira beats Israel Adesanya again at UFC 281.

Rivals. Israel Adesanya: Alex Pereira has ‘bragging rights,’ but ‘I know something he doesn’t ahead of UFC 281 clash

Underdog. Carla Esparza: ‘It makes me smile and laugh’ that people still doubt me ahead of Zhang Weili fight

Change. ‘It was quite ruthless’: Eugene Bareman, fighters reveal how coach united team before UFC 281

Assessments. T.J. Dillashaw: Aljamain Sterling a ‘not very dangerous’ champion, Cody Garbrandt not ‘worth my effort’

Nicknames. Alex Pereira takes shot at Israel Adesanya, says champ ‘won’t freeze me’ at UFC 281


VIDEO STEW

The Chase.

Embedded 2.

Zhang Weili’s greatest hits.

A Zhang elbow breakdown.

City Kickboxing UFC 281 preview.

City Kickboxing All Access.

Volk breaks down Adesanya vs. Pereira.

The War Room: Adesanya vs. Pereira.

Top 10 UFC flyweight knockouts.

Awkward.


LISTEN UP

Fighter vs. Writer. MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin chats with Carla Esparza and Matt Brown.

Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses who has more pressure in UFC 281 main event between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Let them fight.

I think I like that nickname better.

Manhattan Meatball.

Classic.

Signed.

Upgrade.

Poster.

Magical.

Reaction.

Party time.

Victorious.

Team-up.

The art of photography.

New moves.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Chase Sherman (16-10) vs. Waldo Cortes-Acosta (8-0); UFC Vegas 65, Nov. 19

Doo Ho Choi (14-4) vs. Kyle Nelson (13-5); UFC Seoul, Feb. 4

Jim Miller (35-16) vs. Gabriel Benitez (23-11); UFC Fight Night, Feb. 18


FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ve been very excited about this middleweight title fight, but the closer it gets the more I fear a staring contest awaits us.

Sorry to put that possibility into existence. Thanks for reading!


EXIT POLL

Poll

Who wins this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Dustin Poirier
    (431 votes)
  • 32%
    Michael Chandler
    (211 votes)
642 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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