UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira has questioned the wisdom of Israel Adesanya’s decision to jump straight back in with him for a title rematch at UFC 287.
Speaking to reporters during media day ahead of their main event clash in Miami, Pereira said he was happy to take on Adesanya for the second time in successive bouts, with each of his three prior meetings across kickboxing and MMA with “The Last Stylebender” ending in victory for the Brazilian.
“I’m feeling very good for this fight,I’ve trained very hard for this fight, feeling very well prepared,” he said.
“It’s different between this one and the last one. The last one I was looking to be a champ, now I’m here as a champ. I trained very well for this fight.”
Pereira admitted that he was more than happy to accept an immediate rematch, given how he had defeated Adesanya in their first UFC encounter back at UFC 281 last November, where he finished him via TKO two minutes into the fifth round in New York.
“He was a dominant champion,” he said, appreciating Adesanya’s right to call for an immediate rematch.
“Maybe go and do two or three (fights) before (the rematch) but he wanted to do it right away. I say ‘no problem.’”
Most observers hold the view that Adesanya was winning the first matchup up until the point that Pereira clipped him, then finished him, in the final round at Madison Square Garden. But “Poatan” said he sees things somewhat differently when he looks back at the bout.
“People say sometimes that he dominated me, and maybe if Israel wants to see it that way, that’s up to them. I see it a little bit differently, because there were more details,” he said.
“I was winning the first round before I took those two shots. If you look at Round 2, I clearly won. Round 3, I was growing into the fight, having the advantage. He didn’t even take me down, it was a scramble. So, in his head, if he wants to believe that he can beat me by decision and on the points, then OK. But I believe I can, too.”
It’s a bout that will see Pereira and Adesanya face off for a fourth time, after two prior meetings in kickboxing, plus their UFC title clash last November. Pereira is currently 3-0 against Adesanya across both sports, and while Adesanya said their rivalry is one of the biggest in MMA, the Brazilian played down that idea.
“No, I’m not angry at him. No big rivalry on my side,” he said.
“I’m just posting stuff (to social media) to show as an example that I beat him, that I knocked him out – real story. Guys tried to do that, but they can’t, because they did not knock him out. I did, so I’m just showing the real story.”
Pereira looks focused and ready as he looks to repeat history by handing Adesanya back-to-back losses in the Octagon for the first time. And he also had some bad news for the rest of the middleweight division – he isn’t planning on moving up to light heavyweight anytime soon.
“Well, people say that I’m big, that I’m too heavy for this division. But, you know, I’m used to making weight in kickboxing. That was one kilo, about two pounds, more than I do now (and) I always (make weight) without a problem,” he said.
“Right now, I’m focused on making history and (want to) reign as a champion in this division. Later down the road, my body’s going to tell me when to move up, and I’m gonna wait on that.”