Israel Adesanya knows the UFC signed Alex Pereira for the sole purpose of setting up their eventual showdown after they clashed twice previously in kickboxing but in a way that’s exactly the kind of motivation he needed.
As one of the most dominant champions on the entire UFC roster with five title defenses under his belt, Adesnya has largely cleared out the top contenders in the middleweight division including two wins over notable fighters like Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori. Following a lopsided yet highly criticized win over Jared Cannonier in July, Adesanya was happy to hear he would be facing Pereira next despite the fact that the Brazilian only has three wins in the UFC and a single victory over a ranked opponent.
“I was making things look too easy,” Adesanya said during UFC 281 media day. “Even I was getting bored with it, having to lap the division again. For me, I set the way. It’s my job to set the stage. They know exactly what they are doing.
“They brought him up right. He was given the correct fights. He didn’t fight a professional wrestler, I think. He beat one top five guy. I fought a top 10 guy in my f****** third fight in the UFC and I’ve just headlined since and stole the show. My run was different. I appreciate my run because of the way I did it. Let him enjoy his time right now. Let him enjoy his 15 minutes.”
The story leading to the UFC 281 main events almost exclusively centers on Pereira’s wins over Adesanya, including his stunning knockout of “The Last Stylebender”, in their final encounter in 2017..
While that may give Pereira an extra confidence going into Saturday’s fight, Adesanya assures it won’t be a moment that haunts him ever since that time, though he eagerly waits for his chance to get revenge.
“It was never following me around,” Adesanya said. “Not in my world. This was something I had to let go of long ago. But, as I mentioned before, the universe gives you the ability to make history any way that you wish. Every fight is always the fight I have to win. Each fight. The only difference is that this one has a little more butter
If Adesanya succeeds in his bid to defeat Pereira and defend his title, it could be back at his starting point with potential opponents he has defeated before.
That might appear to be a signal that it’s time for Adesanya to test himself at 205 pounds again but he says there’s still more work to be done at middleweight even if that means beating a list of opponents who he’s already beaten before.
” I will lap the division again, and I’ll return up [to 205 pounds] at one point,” Adesanya stated. “Just for my own, maybe a little bit of ego, but just because I can do it.
“I see 205 n***** walking around and everyone that sees me, first thing they say ‘you’re so much bigger.’ It is what it is.”
Even if he does move to light heavyweight again in the future, Adesanya isn’t all that concerned about claiming a second UFC title because that wasn’t necessarily his goal from the beginning.
Instead, Adesanya is looking at the bigger picture when it comes to defining his legacy and the next step will be adding Pereira to his win column at UFC 281.
“There’s a lot in this game,” Adesanya stated. “For me, it’s doing what I’m doing. Beating everyone up in my way. I never really chased these accolades or these records or whatever. I just put a guy in front of me, we knock them down. Everything else follows. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I’ve always said [the UFC title] is a fancy tiara you wear.
” All I wanted was to beat the best and that’s what I have been doing. This came, the money came, everybody came.”