Brendan Schaub compared Israel Adesanya’s success at UFC 287 to one of Muhammad Ali’s most popular performances inside the squared circle.
On Saturday night, ‘The Last Stylebender’ recaptured the middleweight championship, scoring a highlight-reel-worthy knockout of Alex Pereira after dropping three straight against the towering Brazilian boogeyman. Former UFC standout Brendan Schaub shared his thoughts on Adesanya’s second-round KO during his UFC 287 recap on YouTube.
“We’ve never seen a guy at his age lose the belt [against] a guy who’s had his number,” Schaub said. “He was 0-3 against him, but I think that’s what makes Izzy an outlier. He doesn’t predicate his life based off history. Every stat that you could find in the UFC would show that Izzy was gonna lose this fight. Every stat, even though oddsmakers had him as a slight favorite. Even if you watch the fights and say, ‘Man if Izzy just did a few things different.’
“He’s a better mixed martial artist than Alex Pereira, hands down. There’s no debate. He’s just better. More tools. He doesn’t hit as hard, but outside of that, he does everything better than Alex Pereira. He’s not as big. Doesn’t hit as hard. He’s won more rounds in the ring and in the Octagon. Izzy, if he tweaks a few things here, he should be able to pull this off.”
Slow motion shot of the Israel Adesanya's KO over Alex Pereira at UFC 287 pic.twitter.com/j6n4aGVmKr
— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) April 10, 2023
Israel Adesanya did exactly that, landing a right hand “from the gods” that sent Alex Pereira crashing to the canvas, leaving him unconscious. It was a chaotic scene just five months removed from his own shocking knockout loss at the hands of his longtime Brazilian rival. Looking back on the world title win, Schaub likened Adesanya’s performance to that of Muhammad Ali’s when the legendary boxer squared off with George Foreman in Zaire, a fight known as the ‘Rumble in the Jungle.’
Brendan Schaub Believes Israel Adesanya Took a Page Out of Muhammad Ali’s Playbook
“It’s so funny because Izzy had his collab with Muhammad Ali and he pulls the fight off doing something very similar to what Muhammad Ali did, the rope-a-dope,” Schaub continued. “To lure Alex Pereira in, this is how he changed from the last fight. He realized that in order to hurt Alex Pereira, he has to lure this monster in. He has to play this game with potentially, arguably the hardest hitter ever in the middleweight division or in UFC history, outside of Francis Ngannou maybe, but it makes no sense. Even Izzy’s coach said Alex Pereira has a gift from god how hard he hits.
“So you’ve got to play this game. You lure him in where he gets comfortable throwing those combinations and when he’s throwing those combos, his hands are down and we can come over the top and land. It’s insane that was the game plan, but they pulled it off.”
Suffering his first loss inside the Octagon, Alex Pereira looks to be primed for a move to the light heavyweight division, as indicated by UFC President Dana White during the event’s post-fight press conference. Schaub believes that will be a smart move for the Brazilian as it will significantly reduce an already brutal weight cut.
“That guy is a bonafide f*cking 205-er through and through for god sake,” Schaub said. “Quit killing yourself and he’s gonna be able to take better shots at 205. Guys do hit harder there and he does get hit, but the benefits for Alex Pereira at 205 are limitless. The ceiling is so high at 205.”
Who would you like to see Alex Pereira step inside the Octagon with for his light heavyweight debut?