Israel Adesanya, champion of the UFC middleweight division, does not think highly of Alex Pereira’s MMA career just yet.
Pereira has only had seven professional appearances, and only three of those have been inside the octagon. However, Pereira’s first-round knockout of rising contender Sean Strickland at UFC 276 has earned him a crack at Adesanya’s championship in Saturday’s UFC 281 main event.
“I don’t know about his MMA career. I never watched until he got in the UFC,” Adesanya said.
“Like a four – four or five. I think that last one brought it to a five.”
After a 3-0 run in the UFC, Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) knocked out Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) in kickboxing twice. They barely came out on top in their first bout. Adesanya wounded Pereira against the ropes for an 8-second count in their rematch, but Pereira came back to knock him out in Round 3.
“In that moment, I got too hungry and then I blew my load a little bit,” Adesanya said.
“In the third round, he did his work, and I’ve given him thumbs up for that. He came in ready, walking me down, throwing, throwing, and then went boom, caught me, and that was all she wrote.”
He added, “That was me not staying true to my style. I know how to touch this guy bad. I know how to vary my attacks, and I know how to fight properly. I might just jab and leg kick him (laughs).”
“That last fight we had, I was touching him, I had him rocked,” Adesanya said. “There’s no referee to save – Dana, bring back Steve Mazzagatti. Bring back Steve Mazzagatti to ref my fight, because I want to hear ‘fight back’ as I’m punching him in the face like 50 times. I want to hear ‘Fight back, you need to move Alex, you need to move, fight back, now hook him up.’ I wanna hear that like 50 times before they drag me off of him.”
Madison Square Garden in New York City is the site of UFC 281.