Israel Adesanya certainly sees there’s a storyline the UFC can capture if things fall into place at the promotion’s next pay-per-view event.
Adesanya is scheduled to headline UFC 276 on July 2 as he will defend his middleweight title against Jared Cannonier. Also on the main card, a two-time past kickboxing opponent of Adesanya’s will look to get another opportunity to face “The Last Stylebender,” this time for UFC gold in Alex Pereira when he meets fellow surging contender Sean Strickland at the T-Mobile Arena.
If both Adesanya and Pereira emerge victorious, that would likely be the direction the UFC goes. At a UFC press conference on Tuesday, Adesanya would seem to like the idea of facing the man who defeated him twice in the kickboxing world.
“This isn’t kickboxing, this is mixed martial arts,” Adesanya said. “These ain’t big pillow gloves, these are four ounce deadly weapons that I can’t wait to drive through his face after I go through Jared Cannonier.”
If Strickland is victorious in the bout with Pereira, Adesanya would certainly be fine with that option should he defeat Cannonier. But it seems like his sights are set on Pereira with their history.
In their first meeting, Pereira earned a decision in April 2016 at Glory of Heroes 1. In the second matchup, 13 months later at Glory of Heroes 15, Pereira knocked the current UFC middleweight king out.
One thing Adesanya wants to make very clear is that despite the results, the two bouts were much more competitive then the fans will give it credit for.
“I look forward to either one of those fights,” Adesanya explained. “I don’t like this narrative of, ‘It’s too quick, it’s too quick for Pereira,’ but look, Jiri [Prochazka] just fought for and won the belt in his third fight in the UFC. Anderson [Silva] did it in his second fight. So that’s fine, he’s new to MMA. I’ve been in this game a long time and this TikTok generation has a 15-second memory. All they see is a knockout, but they don’t watch the first fight, or the second fight before the finish.”