On Saturday, November 12th, Israel Adesanya will once again defend his UFC middleweight championship under the main event spotlight.
‘The Last Stylebender’ will square off with a familiar foe in Alex Pereira, a fast-rising middleweight contender who gets his UFC title opportunity after three straight victories inside the Octagon. What makes this match-up so intriguing is the history between the two warriors. Having clashed on two separate occasions under the GLORY Kickboxing banner, Alex Pereira holds two victories over Adesanya, including a spectacular knockout of ‘Stylebender’ in March 2017.
Appearing on Jake Paul’s YouTube show ‘BS w/ Jake Paul, Adesanya spoke about his upcoming trilogy bout with his old GLORY rival and addressed whether or not he sees the UFC 281 headliner as the biggest fight of his career.
“It’s my biggest fight yet in the sense of the story. I don’t think it’s gonna be like, I’ve had hard fights and some difficult fights and it is a difficult fight, but the story behind it and everything on the line, this is where I thrive.”
Given their history, it would be understandable for Israel Adesanya to go into this fight with a personal vendetta. However, ‘Stylebender’ revealed that he let go of the losses to Pereira a long time ago. Instead, he views their UFC 281 clash as an opportunity from the universe to rewrite history.
“It’s not personal in the sense people want to make it. I let this go a long time ago. Whenever you go through things like this, you can’t hold onto them. It’s useless. If you hold onto it, you take the lessons and then use it to improve yourself and get to look at where I’m at now. I let this go a long time ago, but the universe, the almighty has blessed me with this opportunity to rewrite history, but I didn’t take it personally.
“You can never hold on to those things because if I do, it’s going to weigh on me. It’s going to be something I have to deal with going into this new fight. This is a new game. This ain’t kickboxing. This is not the same thing. I’m not the same fighter I was back then as well. Even the way I fought him the second time is not how I normally fight. I was young and I let some things get to me, but this is a whole new ball game. This is MMA and there’s no referee to save his a** and let him breathe this time.”
Israel Adesanya on the Potential Fear of Losing to Alex Pereira Once Again
As Israel Adesanya steps in to face a man that has beaten him not once, but twice, it would be understandable for ‘The Last Stylebender’ to feel a fair amount of fear heading to his Madison Square Garden main event, but for the defending world champ, situations like this are where he feels the most motivated.
“Fear is part of the human animal. No matter what you do in life, even if it’s not fighting, there’s always that element of fear or being nervous. A lot of people, they fold. They fold under that pressure. This, for me, this is where I thrive.
“The last few fights for me, I knew I was going to [beat] these guys. I knew I was going to waste them and I’m there doing my thing and they’re all kind of like… They all shook. They shook ones. They already kind of… They try in the first round and once they realize, ‘Oh f*ck, this is not what I thought it was gonna be like’ and then they try and survive. This guy’s not gonna be that guy. He’s not gonna try and survive. He’s gonna try and come forward and take me out. That’s what excites me. That’s what I thrive in.
“I need that pressure, especially under the big lights of MSG. The whole world watching and that’s what I’ve been saying. I don’t really even need to sell this fight. This fight’s already sold. This is the guy that beat me and finished me in kickboxing and now he’s on another hunt in MMA to try and take me out. Is he gonna do it or am I gonna f*ck him up? That’s why people gotta tune in and find out.”