Israel Adesanya is more than willing to lock horns with Alex Pereira once again tomorrow night (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) at UFC 281 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, but the reigning UFC middleweight champion doesn’t believe his former kickboxing foe earned the right to fight for the title.
This is a big weekend for Adesanya to say the least. The undisputed 185-pound king of mixed martial arts (MMA) hasn’t looked quite himself in his last three trips to the cage and he already has two losses to Pereira on his kickboxing record, which includes a viral knockout back in 2017. Adesanya will have the chance to redeem himself in more than one way this Saturday at UFC 281 in a matchup that has been years in the making.
But has Pereira earned his opportunity to fight Adesanya on the biggest card of the year?
The Brazilian contender is just 3-0 inside of the Octagon since making his promotional debut just over one year ago, but Pereira is already fighting for gold. Pereira’s previous knockout win over Adesanya and his GLORY kickboxing record certainly helped his case, but “Poatan” leapfrogged a line of experienced fighters to get his chance at Izzy.
“What have you done to earn the spot? I still don’t think he’s earned the spot but I welcome it because he’s fresh at this. I want to welcome him and I want to expose him at this,” said Adesanya during a recent appearance on Morning Kombat. “If he had the run that I had, if he had to go through people that I went through, he would have been exposed three fights ago. He would have beaten some of those guys, definitely, but he would have been exposed along the way.
“I cleared the way for him because I cleared the division. It was a clear path right to me.”
Adesanya, who is entering his six-straight UFC title defense, has defeated the likes of Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori and Anderson Silva since making his Octagon debut nearly five years ago. The champ’s UFC resume completely trumps that of Pereira, who has wins over Sean Strickland, Bruno Silva, and Andreas Michailidis over the past 12 months. The level of competition isn’t even close.
That said, Pereira has already shared the ring with Adesanya in the past and has looked unstoppable since making his own UFC debut. He may have to lean on more than just his knockout power Saturday night, but Pereira should be able to prove he belongs when the cage door shuts at UFC 281.
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