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Glover Teixeira doubts Israel Adesanya dramatically changes strategies for UFC 287: ‘He’s not a wrestler’

MMA: UFC 281 - Adesanya vs Pereira
Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira met at UFC 281 in New York
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Pereira knocked out Israel Adesanya to claim the UFC middleweight title this past November. Now they’ll meet in an immediate rematch Saturday night at UFC 287.

Glover Teixeira, a longtime friend and teammate of Pereira, won’t be surprised if the bitter rivals meet one more time in the UFC in the future, regardless of their outcome in Miami.

“I think we’ve had boxers that have fought each other five times in the past,” Teixeira told MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast, an interview provided by his sponsor Stake. “The thing is, they fought in different [sports]. People fight each other a lot in kickboxing, like five, six, seven times. It’s hard to do that in the UFC, but there’s definitely a possibility of a third fight, regardless of who wins.

“It’s not impossible. It would be five fights, but three in the UFC. Those two in kickboxing have nothing to do with this. ‘Poatan’ himself said the score was back to zero [in MMA]. It was 0-0 again, and they would start over.”

The former UFC light heavyweight champion, who retired earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro, said he doesn’t want to be called Pereira’s coach, even though he corners “Poatan” in the UFC and runs the gym where the champ trains. That said, Teixeira continues to assist Pereira in practice alongside other coaches.

Adesanya was ahead on the scorecards back in November before Pereira rallied to win via fifth-round knockout, and Teixeira doesn’t expect many changes in either’s skill sets for the rematch.

“You can’t change much. No one will change that much,” Teixeira said.

“I think Adesanya will come a bit different, try to enhance his speed and the angles that were working on ‘Poatan.’ We’ve watched that fight a lot here. And he’ll try to get better, and so did ‘Poatan’. He will work on the things that worked for him and explore that, but changing is complicated.

“Adesanya was able to take ‘Poatan’ to the ground with a berimbolo, ended on top and kind of stayed there to win that round, but you’ll wonder if he will try that strategy? He won’t, he’s not a wrestler. He might try to take him down, but taking ‘Poatan’ down is not easy.

“[Adesanya] won’t fight like me, rushing forward and trying takedowns relentlessly. He’ll be Adesanya. I think he’ll explore his speed, those leg kicks that were working, that jab and cross that landed in the end [of the first round]. He’ll do that. He won’t change much.”

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