Israel Adesanya’s head coach: ‘There’s no way’ Alex Pereira gets UFC 281 title shot without history


It’s hard to deny that the UFC’s promotional strategy with Alex Pereira to get him to Saturday’s main event was brilliant.

Pereira will challenge Israel Adesnaya for the middleweight title in the UFC 281 headliner. Pereira has two wins in kickboxing against Adesanya, which is well known and has helped to build the fight that will be the main stage at Madison Square Garden.

Pereira won his three octagon appearances. However, Eugene Bareman, Adesnaya’s head coach gave his opinion on the timing of Pereira’s challenger.

“There’s no way he gets a title shot if there wasn’t history there; it’s ridiculous,” Bareman said on The MMA Hour. “It’s just ridiculous that someone would get a title shot [so quickly]. The history of Israel and UFC is a part of Dana’s story. That’s one thing they do really well. This history was picked up by them, this fight would bring in a lot of attention, and they strategically push Alex to fight for the title.

We’ll need to check Saturday if he was being too fast and if they were more patient .”

Regardless of the UFC clearly booking to this third meeting among combat rivals, Bareman is well aware of the type of powerful striker Adesanya will be facing on Saturday night.

Pereira got his shot with a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 — the same event Adesanya headlined against Jared Cannonier. In the City Kickboxing coach’s eyes, Adesanya will have to be as close to perfect as possible.

“He can take you out and that is a rare gift Alex has,” Bareman stated on The MMA Hour. “Not every fighter you come across has that gift, it’s very rare, and to fight someone like that is the ultimate challenge.

“You have to be on for 25 minutes. You could be off for two seconds like Israel was in the last fight, and then the whole landscape of the fight changes — whether you’re winni,ng or losing, it doesn’t matter. This to me, is my ultimate challenge.

” I think he will be less intimidated [than Cannonier] since he has seen more strikers of such high quality,” Bareman said. That comes with great danger. This is Israel’s exclusive area. When you are too assertive, he will make you pay.”

Adesanya will be looking for his sixth title defense. In his lone pro MMA loss, “The Last Stylebender” tried to join the short list of fighters to capture two titles in two different divisions, but was defeated via unanimous decision by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in March 2021.

Since then, Adesanya has won decision victories over Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori. While Adesanya’s dominance hasn’t been the most thrilling thing to watch in the eyes of some fans, Bareman believes Adesanya will continue his championship reign in similar one-side fashion.

” “I believe there is some personal stuff there,” Bareman said. “The trick is when fights like this get too personal, you try to separate it — the emotion of the fight, the strategy of the fight, the tactics — you want to separate all of that and make it very distinct, put them in different groups and don’t confuse them with one another because that’s when things go wrong.

” I see Israel doing the best thing: accumulating damage. He fights cleanly, doesn’t get hit, then he gets back to his friends and family afterward. Whether he gets a stoppage [or not], I always envision it going the distance, Israel having a clean fight, Israel hitting and not getting hit, then getting back to his friends and family after that to celebrate and all the rest of it.”