Israel Adesanya expects his third meeting with Alex Pereira to be a grisly affair.
At UFC 281, Adesanya defends his middleweight title against Pereira, an opponent that has previously defeated him twice in kickboxing. This history is a key part of Saturday’s Main Event at Madison Square Garden in New York. Adesanya assures that the fight will be cinematic.
“I just want to make it a horror movie,” Adesanya said on The MMA Hour this past Monday. That’s what I feel. I’ve decided this is going to be a horror movie. This is going to be bloody. It’s going be a one-two punch. Although it may not last as long for me or Kelvin [Gastelum],, it will get there. The question is, “Who can swim?” Who can swim the longest? Who’s going to drown?
” That’s exactly what I see happening. It will happen. I want to make it a horror movie because it’s been a horror movie in the gym.”
At media day on Wednesday, Adesanya was asked what horror movie specifically he seeks to recreate and he mentioned the critically acclaimed 2018 hit A Quiet Place, a film that features a world overrun by blind monsters that attack with savage precision upon hearing the slightest whisper. Adesanya would likely appreciate the same kind of acclaim, given the heat he took for an uneventful–but dominant–win over Jared Cannonier in his previous title defense.
Adesanya’s second kickboxing fight ended with a frightening scene in its own right as “The Last Stylebender” was caught by a knockout left hand from Pereira in the March 2017 encounter. Afterwards, medics rushed into the ring to check on Adesanya, which he says was all part of the show.
“It’s fugazi,” Adesanya said. They put the [oxygen] mask on my head. I lay down, and they said, “Stay here, stay here.” Then, they placed the mask on my face. I was like, ‘I’m breathing fine.’ But it’s all theatrics. After they had announced the winner they attempted to stretcher me. I was like, ‘Naw, I’m good. I’m able to walk. I’m fine.'”
With over five years having passed since what would turn out to be Adesanya’s last kickboxing fight, the UFC champion can brush off the result now and he’s taken a similar approach to hyping up what is, on paper, a classic grudge match.
” I don’t need to say much,” Adesanya stated. “The fight’s sold. I don’t need to try and get under his skin. For what? Some people are easy to fight, such as [Derek] Brunson. That was because I knew how poke the bear. [Pereira] doesn’t even speak English, I don’t need to say anything to him.
” It would be stupid of me to attempt intimidation on him. That’s the wrong tactic. Your tactics should be adjusted to suit the circumstances. All I’m doing right now is just staying patient and doing my work.”