Israel Adesanya views his next fight as his biggest yet.
The story is clear ahead of UFC 281. After being defeated twice in kickboxing by Alex Pereira, New Zealand’s current middleweight champion Adesanya seeks redemption. They will battle it out under MMA rules on the biggest stage in order to win the most prestigious title.
Pereira was able to challenge for the title of champion with just three victories in this promotion, and six in his seven fights. While Adesanya is treating the fight with a great magnitude, he feels he’s fought stiffer challengers than his kickboxing successor.
“No, I don’t think [he presents the toughest challenge],” Adesanya told ESPN. He’s extremely one-dimensional. He’s early on in this game as well so I’m even glad to get him now. I don’t know who he has in his corner. I know he has Glover [Teixeira] and his boxing coach. I don’t know what their background is, I don’t really mind, I just worry about me. I definitely know he’s not as smart as me in the cage. I’m certain of that
Banter hasn’t been too abundant between the parties involved in UFC 281’s main event, but “Poatan” has certainly played along a bit with the jabs at “The Last Stylebender. Pereira has posted videos to his social media accounts mocking some of Adesanya’s training techniques and as recently as this fight week posted a picture of himself with an Elsa from Frozen mascot — a shot at a past quote of Adesanya’s.
It’s not the first time Adesanya has dealt with an opponent trying to get under his skin. The champion finds it just as unusual as other cases.
“It’s giving [me] Robert Whittaker before UFC 243 [vibes],” Adesanya said. “I said the same thing, I’m like, ‘You’re acting out of character.’ It’s giving [Paulo] Costa vibes as well before [UFC] 253. I was like why are you making all these skits? But yeah, I didn’t say anything back, I don’t react. It’s your question now, so I must respond. But I won’t respond until we are in the octagon. Then I will respond correctly. When I respond properly, he’ll understand what I’m saying.”
A Pereira win will be title defense No. 6 officially for Adesanya, leaving him with some intriguingly minimal options for challengers at middleweight afterward. In his 24-fight MMA career, Adesanya’s lone defeat came in his attempt to capture light heavyweight gold against Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. The champion intends on trying 205 pounds again in the future whether it’s for the belt or not.
“I will do another side mission [at light heavyweight], even without the belt,” Adesanya said. “Just to have that win at 205 and then just say I did it, you know?” Adesanya said. “That’d be fun because I know I can do it. I just want to tick that one off then come back to 185 and rule with my iron black fist.”
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Roundtable. MMA Fighting discusses if Alex Pereira beats Israel Adesanya again at UFC 281.
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Nicknames. Alex Pereira takes shot at Israel Adesanya, says champ ‘won’t freeze me’ at UFC 281
Zhang Weili’s greatest hits.
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City Kickboxing UFC 281 preview.
City Kickboxing Access.
Volk breaks down Adesanya vs. Pereira.
The War Room: Adesanya vs. Pereira.
Top 10 UFC flyweight knockouts.
Fighter vs. Writer. MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin chats with Carla Esparza and Matt Brown.
Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses who has more pressure in UFC 281 main event between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Let them fight.
I think that this nickname is better.
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The posters are signed & #UFC281 fight week is in full swing
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Just 26 years old.
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The art of photography.
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I’ve been excited about the middleweight title fight but it is getting closer and closer, so I am afraid of a losing battle.
Sorry to put that possibility into existence. Thank you for reading.