Alex Pereira is certain that UFC 281 will be the decisive event in his business with Israel Adesanya.
On Saturday, Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will take on Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) for the UFC middleweight championship. If successful, Pereira will have won all three of their previous meetings in kickboxing and MMA combat. With six successful defenses under his belt, Israel Adesanya has earned a rematch against the champion should he ever lose it, an argument that Pereira finds compelling. To what extent Adesanya would desire the fight is another question.
“It makes no difference who they want to put after” Pereira told reporters at UFC 281 media day.
“He deserves it, but after this fight he isn’t going to want it.”
In their two kickboxing bouts against each other, Pereira won both by decision and by knockout. The fact that he is the only person to defeat Adesanya in a combat sport fight has been used as a major selling factor in putting the two together for the main event of UFC 281.
The fight takes place at Madison Square Garden and will be broadcast on pay-per-view after preliminary rounds air on ESPNews and ESPN+. Adesanya has described the fight as “personal” to him because of their history. Adesanya’s statements, according to Pereira, show that he’s nervous about fighting again, an assertion that Pereira strongly refutes.
“I will do my work and job like I would if I was fighting anyone else. I just focus on fighting for the title. …. I don’t know how he would possibly be over that (knockout). It’s still in his mind.”
“Anything can happen – many possibilities,” Pereira said.
“Maybe Israel can go and try to take me down. If that happens, it’s going to be more of desperation instead of strategy.”