Israel Adesanya Reflects on His Iconic Rivlary with Alex Pereira: ‘I Just Knew That I Can Beat This Guy’

'The Last Stylebender' looked back on his four fights with Pereira under the GLORY Kickboxing and UFC banners

Alex Pereira And Israel Adesanya
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

After going to war with Alex Pereira four times across two different promotions, Israel Adesanya has nothing, but respect for his Brazilian rival.

When it comes to Pereira’s fans, that’s a different story.

During a recent appearance on Demetrious Johnson’s YouTube channel, ‘The Last Stylebender’ reflected on his many close battles with Pereira under both the GLORY Kickboxing banner and inside the Octagon. Though Adesanya went a mere 1-3 against the reigning light heavyweight champion — suffering a couple of brutal KOs in the process — there is a lot more to the story that “casual” combat sports fans tend to ignore. 

“People, they’re so f*cking stupid,” Adesanya said. “In this first fight in China, I thought I won. These casuals don’t. These plebs don’t. I thought I won. Even he thought he won until he got his hand raised. The second time, I’m beating his ass and he gets me. Again in New York [at UFC 281], I’m beating him. Rocked him. Took him down, beat him, and he gets me.” 

The ‘Stylebender’ ultimately went down in the fifth round of their middleweight title clash at Madison Square Garden. Still, his early success against ‘Poatan’ left Adesanya with one undeniable conclusion — he could beat Alex Pereira. 

Adesanya did exactly that five months later, KO’ing Pereira in the second round of their UFC 287 title rematch. 

“I just knew that I can beat this guy,” Adesanya added. “It wasn’t about proving it to anyone else. I can beat this guy, so that last Miami one, I was in a different place. I had to tap into some darkness for that camp. People who knew me, I was different. Ain’t no way this motherf*cker is about to beat me four times. It’s about the story. So now I’ve beat him once. How ironic. I beat him once, but watch this. If I fight him again and knock him out, what are they going to say? ‘It’s 3-2. Now it’s best out of seven.’

“I’m 34. I’ve only got a certain amount of fights left. Why am I gonna fight the same guy however many times? I just want to prove it to myself.”

Israel Adesanya Recognizes How Special Alex Pereira Is

After handing the middleweight belt back to Adesanya, Alex Pereira made the move to light heavyweight, earning a win over ex-champion Jan Blachowicz before booking himself a 205-pound title fight with another former titleholder, Jiri Prochazka, at UFC 295.

‘Poatan’ put away the Czech in the second round, claiming his second world title in a year. He has since defended the title, smashing Jamahal Hill in the UFC 300 main event with a perfectly timed left uppercut in the opening round. 

“He’s a special fighter,” Adesanya said of Pereira. “He’s a special human being. What he’s done in this game — in fighting and what he’s done for his life as well, I’ll always respect him. I’m grateful for those moments because, for me, it taught me so much about myself and where I can go.”

Watch the full interview below:

Published on April 23, 2024 at 4:19 pm
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