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.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Let them fight.
I think I like that nickname better.
Robert "The Creeper" Whittaker pic.twitter.com/nWjcU3tdbY— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) November 8, 2022
DC's reaction to the greatest Luke Rockhold story. pic.twitter.com/OECaZFDp3F— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) August 17, 2022
Truly a Magical Day! Thank you my Nanda for inviting me to your @Acronis #cyberfit summit! @MagicJohnson thank you for your time! In my heart and soul, nothing will ever surpass the Jordan, Bird, Barkley, Magic era! pic.twitter.com/9kcAAm4zTP— Mike Goldberg (@GoldieOnTV) November 8, 2022
The art of photography.
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!
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