Jon Anik believes Israel Adesanya knocking out Alex Pereira at UFC 287 was perhaps the biggest win in the promotion’s 30-year history.
On Saturday night, ‘The Last Stylebender’ scored the most impressive win of his career thus far, delivering a showstopping highlight-reel knockout of longtime rival Alex Pereira in the evening’s main event. After falling short on three separate occasions against his Brazilian boogeyman, Adesanya finally broke through, reclaiming the 185-pound crown in the process.
Joining ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on First Take, Anik discussed Adesanya’s impressive win in detail and suggested that it is arguably the most impressive win in all of MMA history.
“I might sound like hyperbole and it’s great to be with you guys, but this can be argued as one of the biggest singular wins in mixed martial arts history. The rivalry between these two fighters is well documented. Even though the series was close, it was 3-nill for Alex Pereira and one of the hardest things to do in the UFC in particular is to lose your belt and then win it back. In a span of five months, Izzy was able to do that.”
Adesanya became just the fourth fighter in the promotion’s 30-year history to reclaim a UFC championship in an immediate rematch. The other three fighters that have accomplished the feat include Randy Couture, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Amanda Nunes.
“I think this win in particular is a lot more about the psychology than the physical. Just getting Izzy’s mind right to actually walk into a combat sports setting down 3-nill and to beat this man like this. I think you can argue it as one of the biggest wins in UFC history.”
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
Jon Anik Puts Israel Adesanya Above Anderson Silva as the Greatest Middleweight in UFC History
For Jon Anik, Adesanya’s win over Alex Pereira backed by his impressive hit list inside the Octagon is more than enough to make ‘Stylebender’ the greatest middleweight champion in UFC history.
“In my humble opinion, [it] cements Israel Adesanya as one of the greatest of all time,” Anik continued. “There are still people who can argue Anderson Silva as the greatest middleweight champion of all time, and in terms of the title defenses, that is okay. I sit here in 2023 and not just argue for Adesanya’s case as one of the best pound-for-pound guys right now, I think he’s the greatest middleweight champion of all time based upon the strength of scheduled and based on this win.”
Following the events of UFC 287, both Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira have expressed interest in moving up to the light heavyweight division. Anik sees ‘Stylebender’ having an easier time dealing with the top ten at 205 compared to the top ten at middleweight, but the UFC play-by-play man is not necessarily convinced that Pereira will be moving away from 185.
“The top ten at middleweight is more challenging than the top ten at 205 lbs,” Anik suggested. “For a long time, the UFC light heavyweight division was the glamor division. It’s just not as talent thick as it used to be. And I also think Alex Pereira has kind of mastered the weight cut right now so if our fighter meeting is any indication, this dude’s not moving up to 205 lbs. He wants to stay at middleweight, but Dana White after the fact was trying to lay the foundation to move him up. I think Pereira stays at 85 for his next fight.”
Alex Pereira has already confirmed that he will be competing at 205 going forward, but as is the case with mixed martial arts, things can and usually do change at a moment’s notice.