Israel Adesanya has multiple paths back to the UFC middleweight championship, but ‘The Last Stylebender’ is choosing the hardest road which runs directly into reigning titleholder Alex Pereira.
After Pereira shocked the world with a fifth-round knockout of Adesanya to capture the 185-pound title at UFC 281, many thought the former champion would sit back and let someone else take the title off Pereira thus giving him the best chance at becoming a two-time UFC champion in the aftermath. It would be an understandable strategy for Adesanya considering his 0-3 record against Pereira, but ‘Stylebender’ has no intentions of taking the easiest path back to the top.
Sonnen Applauds Adesanya for Taking on Pereira Again at UFC 287
UFC president Dana White announced that Alex Pereira will defend his newly won title against Israel Adesanya in a rematch that will headline UFC 287 on April 8. Reacting to the news, Chael Sonnen took us on a walk as he commended Adesanya’s choice to run it back with Pereira later this year rather than waiting for another middleweight to step up and end the Brazilian’s reign.
“I think if you put Pereira against the field, he is likely the underdog,” Sonnen said on the latest episode of Beyond The Fight. “If DraftKings was to come out with a line today, he’s gonna be defending against Paulo Costa. I think they’d put Paulo on top and the same thing would go with Whittaker. Now, there could be some disrespect in us saying that. We were all pretty resigned that we had seen the skills of Pereira and that he is an unusual mixed martial arts champion in that he is one-skill heavy, which is the punches and the kicks.
“The rest of the story that we conveniently leave out is that’s been enough and he’s beaten everybody they put in front of him. But we as MMA fans, we believe you must have more than one discipline. We believe that you’ve gotta be able to show your guillotine and you gotta at least be able to pronounce omoplata.”
“The last 20 years of history would say that we’ve got that right. Alex Pereira really is a one-off. It’s a highly unusual spot and I think that I really do understand what Adesanya’s saying in both regards. Because he’s not just saying, ‘Hey, I think the field can beat this guy.’ That’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying another side of it which is, ‘I got problems with this guy. I’ve been up to bat three times. It has not worked out those three times for whatever reason. I’m not just dying to get a hold of him and close this thing out because I know that I can. I know this guy’s a problem. There’s other paths to a championship that are more likely to get me there, but my path and the one that I’ve got to do as a competitor has to go through him.’
“That’s strong stuff. From a psychological standpoint that’s very strong stuff and it’s coming from both of these guys.”