The April 8 pay-per-view sees Adesanya once again square off with longtime rival Alex Pereira in the main event, with Adesanya looking to reclaim the UFC middleweight title that he lost to Pereira this past November via a shocking fifth-round knockout. Pereira also holds two kickboxing victories over Adesanya, giving him a definitive 3-0 lead in their combat sports series.
Having such a storied history with Pereira, Adesanya was asked what his specific motivation is for their rematch during a media scrum backstage at UFC 284 this past Saturday in Perth, Australia.
“I’ve never not been motivated to fight this guy, but for this one I’ve put the pressure on myself,” Adesanya said. “Like, f*** the belt, f*** everything else. I have to beat this guy, so that’s my motivation, just beating him. Like I said, they can say whatever they want, it’s 1-0 or 3-0, I don’t keep score, I settle them and I just need one and I’m going to get it done.”
Adesanya had never lost in MMA when competing at 185 pounds before crossing paths with Pereira again and he was on his way to a decision victory before Pereira cranked up the pressure two minutes into the final round. With Adesanya hurt, referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off the bout, stopping Adesanya’s title defense streak and making Pereira a UFC champion in just his eighth MMA appearance.
The bout was similar in some ways to their two kickboxing bouts, with Adesanya seemingly doing enough to win each time but losing by narrow decision in the first encounter and a late knockout in the second. He expects their fourth meeting to play out as before, though with a different ending.
“Just keep the same energy because I’m always beating him until I’m not,” Adesanya said when asked about potential adjustments. “So I’m just going to make sure I keep beating him the whole way through.”
“I go in there and I don’t overthink,” Adesanya later added. “I’m not gun shy. I go in there and I trade with people, especially with him as well, so expect me to do what I do. Like I said, I have to talk because you guys want me to talk, but say less and I’ll do more. I promise you I’ll do more in this fight.”
An Adesanya win would present the UFC with a conundrum, as Pereira would have a strong case for an immediate rematch himself having previously beaten Adesanya three times. However, Adesanya expects that a win over Pereira will be the end of it, with Pereira possibly making a move to light heavyweight in the future.
“If he wants to stick around we can do it, but I have a hunch he’s going to move up,” Adesanya said.