Ahead of UFC 276, Adesanya addressed a potential rematch with Pereira — who defeated him twice in kickboxing — stating that MMA doesn’t have “big pillow gloves” like kickboxing and he can’t wait drive a four-ounce glove “through his face” when they finally meet again.
In response, Pereira sent a not so subtle reminder to Adesanya about what happened in their last meeting, which ended by knockout after the Brazilian connected with a hellacious left hook following a back-and-forth battle through the first two rounds.
“Well [Adesanya’s comments] actually makes me confused,” Pereira said during UFC 276 media day. “Because with those two fights and the knockout, he actually claimed [the gloves] to be a pillow, but now we talk about four-ounce gloves.
“It is a deadly weapon, but if the big pillows already make him leave on the stretcher with an [oxygen] balloon on him, imagine what’s going to happen with four-ounce [gloves].”
Because Pereira already holds two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, he believes that’s exactly why the reigning UFC middleweight champion actually wants nothing to do with him for a third time.
While Adesanya has said differently in the days leading up to UFC 276, where both fighters will compete on the main card, Pereira wants to take that choice away from him by beating Sean Strickland and defining himself as the No. 1 contender in the division.
“I don’t think he wants the fight due to the history that we have,” Pereira claimed. “If he really wanted the fight, when I first signed with the UFC he wouldn’t let me do three fights like I’m doing now. He would just go to the organization and if he agrees, I want the rubber match right now and I want to get back those losses.
“But after my win in [Madison Square] Garden, he said I still have four more wins before I reach to him. This is the third. But now goes and says that he wants to fight me next and everything that he’s saying because he sees that it’s on the contract so he has nowhere else to run.”
It could easily be argued that Pereira’s fast rise up the ranks comes in large part because he does have those two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, and without those accolades on his résumé, he’d have to accomplish a lot more before receiving a UFC title shot.
Pereira disagrees with that assessment because as much attention as he’s getting for the past he shares with Adesanya, his accomplishments in kickboxing go far beyond either of those wins.
“It doesn’t mean nothing to me when people say that because honestly I have way bigger achievements than defeating him in kickboxing,” Pereira said. “I became the GLORY double champ.
“So I have so many wins and achievements and titles after that. Obviously those wins count to the whole scene that we’re having right now, but I believe that I have further more achievements than that.”
Despite the bad blood they share, Pereira isn’t hiding his desire for Adesanya to remain champion in his fight against Jared Cannonier, because he absolutely understands the full magnitude of what a third fight between them would mean.
That’s why he plans to beat Strickland, and then he’ll turn into a cheerleader for Adesanya — at least for one night.
“I believe Adesanya’s going to win this fight,” Pereira said. “Even though he don’t seem too focused, because he’s been talking about me so much for this past week and he should be more focused on the fight that he has, because he has a dangerous fight. But I still believe that he’s going to win and I’m rooting for him.”