Alex Pereira is technically 3-0 against Israel Adesanya after an incredible comeback win to claim the middleweight title in the UFC 281 main event. However, it seems that the rivalry may not be over.
Following a pair of wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, Pereira delivered a stunning standing knockout in their first MMA meeting. Pereira fought through plenty of adversity – he was down on the scorecards heading into the fifth – before his coaches urged him to go for the knockout.
Pereira obviously listened as he came after Adesanya with everything left in his arsenal until he trapped the now former UFC middleweight champion against the cage and unleashed a barrage of punches to stop the fight. Although Adesanya was eliminated by Pereira, he showed great respect for his opponent and fought with everything he had. It’s possible that a vengeance fight will be held in the 185-pound section.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” UFC President Dana White said when asked about an immediate rematch between Adesanya and Pereira.
White acknowledged that Adesanya, a five-time champion going into Saturday night’s match, was well on his way towards a victory until Pereira pulled off the win.
All this means that Adesanya has likely done enough to merit the match with Pereira.
” You have to demonstrate Israel [respect],” White. “First of all, I was saying that this week and it’s the absolute truth, Israel Adesanya didn’t flinch about taking this fight. He loves to fight every day. This fight was his. He wanted this fight. A lot of people talk publicly and it’s a whole different story behind the scenes. This guy is a stud. He wants to be active in fights. This fight was his first.
” His only loss came when he attempted to gain weight to 205. Respect him for being a champion and all he has done .”
White also gave praise to Adesanya’s attitude towards the matchup after Pereira had defeated him in the last GLORY encounter.
Despite all that, Adesanya proved he was more than ready for the rematch and nearly had Pereira beaten – until he didn’t.
“Israel was absolutely confident going into this fight, too,” White said. “Never once did he look like he was scared of this guy or worried about it. He kept picking at him.
” I think that he could have been a bit more aggressive during the fourth round. You’re winning fights when you move into the fourth round. Then you reach the fifth. All you have to do to win the fight is to stay out of his way in the fifth. Sometimes that strategy doesn’t work out.”