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Alex Pereira reacts to ‘child’ Israel Adesanya mocking his son following UFC 287 knockout: ‘I wouldn’t do the same’

UFC 287: Pereira v Adesanya 2
Israel Adesanya
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Israel Adesanya finally got his revenge, knocking out his longtime rival Alex Pereira at UFC 287 to reclaim the middleweight championship this past Saturday in Miami. Adesanya had several in-cage celebrations targeting Pereira, like shooting arrows at him, and even mocked “Poatan’s” son.

Pereira’s 12-year-old son was watching the fight cageside and saw his father get brutally knocked out in the second round of their main event bout. Moments after the finish, Adesanya pointed at him before flopping to the mat, mimicking the same celebration the child did following his father’s second kickboxing victory years before in Brazil.

Pereira released a video on his YouTube page addressing the defeat and saying he wouldn’t have done the same if he was on Adesanya’s shoes.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t do the same,” Pereira said. “I can play with him like I’ve always played. I’ve teased him, but I don’t know, he’s another child. I don’t know what his feelings were. He was enduring this for seven years and I saw his joy after the knockout. That was his dream. That was his dream and he made it, but we’re comparing him with a child who was 5 years old at the time, right?

“I don’t have that mind. I can prove it because today he’s 12 years old and before the fight I saw that he was being influenced by other people, sometimes he even participated in some interviews and some reporters asked [my son], ‘Are you going to do this again?’ and he laughed. He’s a kid and he thinks it’s funny.

“I knocked him out [at UFC 281], I won the belt, and my kid wanted to do the same thing up there. I told him, ‘No, stop, don’t do it. Stay here, don’t do anything.’ I’m a conscious guy about everything I’m saying here, and I wouldn’t do it. If he did it and felt better that way, ok, it’s a relief he had. And if he thinks it’s better for him, ok, that won’t change anything for me.”

The middleweight rivals met backstage after the bout and had a very respectful conversation. Adesanya mentioned his desire to fly to Brazil and possibly train with him to learn his kicks. Pereira said he doesn’t know “if it’s real” or not, but is open to meeting in the future.

“If we’ll train together or not it’s up to him. I’m always willing to be good with everyone,” Pereira said. “I’m sure those kicks are very good, they hurt. He knows that. I see a fight there in the third round there, he would hardly make it to the end, maybe it wouldn’t go beyond the third. I’m willing to do anything. I want to be good with everybody. I don’t have a rivalry with anyone. I’m not a rival of Adesanya. He hadn’t won any fights [against me] and he had this feeling. Maybe today after having one victory over me maybe he will change his mind. If it changes, it will be cool.”

Pereira said he felt he was “doing very well” and “dominating the fight there, hurting him” before the finish at UFC 287, and the result doesn’t prove that Adesanya is ultimately “better” than him in MMA. The score is now 1-1 in the UFC, with Pereira being 2-0 under kickboxing rules.

The Brazilian fighter didn’t reveal any plans for the future and if he’s considering a permanent move to light heavyweight next, but vowed to “come back stronger than ever.”

“He knows how much I was hurting him, and that’s what I did in training,” Pereira said. “I did in training everything I expected to do in the fight. It was working out really well. Him being cornered, to say that it was strategically, that he was waiting there and I fell into his traps, I don’t believe that. I believe that he was better than me that night. He felt cornered and he was throwing punches and it landed and I was out.”

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