Exclusive: Stephen Thompson Predicts Israel Adesanya To Defeat Alex Pereira: ‘Stylebender Has More In His Arsenal’

'Wonderboy' makes his pick for the UFC 281 headliner.

Wb Ufc 281
(via @ufc, @wonderboymma - Instagram)

It’s striker vs. striker in the UFC 281 main event and ‘Wonderboy’ is all over it.

Known for having some of the best karate in MMA, Stephen Thompson shifts his sights onto another great pair of striking specialists. Israel Adesanya is set to defend his UFC middleweight title against former foe Alex Pereira this weekend at Madison Square Garden.

The two have crossed paths before, with Pereira getting the win both times. The Brazilian would edge Adesanya by decision in 2016 before knocking him out in the 2017 rematch. Years later they meet not inside the kickboxing ring, but instead in the UFC Octagon. 

Thompson Believes Adesanya Won The First Fight Against Pereira

While Pereira may be 2-0 in their series, ‘Wonderboy’ thinks Adesanya should get more credit for his previous performances against his rival. 

“I think this is gonna be a very exciting fight,” Thompson told Middle Easy. “Nobody’s really been able to do a whole lot with Stylebender. He’s been very dominant in that division, he has beat everybody literally in the top 10 I feel like. Alex Pereira is 3-0 in the UFC and already fighting for the title shot, which makes sense cause he is the last guy to beat Adesanya.

“I believe that the first fight it was all [Adesanya]. I thought he won that fight. I thought he outstruck Perera in the second fight, he was winning. Style Bender won that the first fight. But they gave it to [Pereira]… The second time they fought, I feel like Stylebender was winning the fight until he just got knocked out.”

‘Style Bender Has More In His Arsenal’

Thompson believes the third time will be the charm for Israel Adesanya as MMA should be a different story altogether.  

“That was [kickboxing] but in MMA, I feel like Stylebender has more in his arsenal and can mix up things here and there to help him with his striking game to out-counter Pereira. The only thing that Stylebender’s gotta watch out for is Pereira’s left hook. He’s got a mean left hook. He’s knocked out a lot of guys with that left hook.

“So, I think Style Bender has more in his arsenal to defeat Alex Pereira.”

We’ll see if ‘Wonderboy’ is right when the two striker meets inside the Octagon at UFC 281.

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