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‘Scared’ Israel Adesanya delaying Alex Pereira rematch — ‘He thought he would never see me again’

Israel Adesanya insists he’ll (eventually) avenge his knockout loss to Alex Pereira, but first wants the Brazilian striker to work his way up the middleweight ladder to prove he’s championship material.

UFC 259: Blachowicz v Adesanya Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya recently told the combat sports media that he wanted to avenge his knockout loss to longtime kickboxing rival Alex Pereira to cement himself as the greatest striker in the division — across any discipline.

But not for another four fights.

“I’ll tell you this: it’s harder for me to get to him than beating him, he knows that,” Pereira told MMA Fighting. “He knows how I beat him. He fought me twice. He won’t admit how difficult I am. He’s not anxious to fight me. He wants me to slip tomorrow so he can say, ‘Is this the guy you want me to fight? Are you crazy? Go back to the end of the line.’ He’ll run from me.”

Pereira, 34, holds two wins over Adesanya from their kickboxing days. After capturing a unanimous decision victory over the 32 year-old “Anime Nerd” back in early 2016, the Brazilian stiffened “The Last Stylebender” at Glory of Heroes 7 the following year.

“Adesanya thought he would never see me again and was comfortable,” Pereira said. “Someone crazy for a fight will say, ‘I want this guy, I want to prove I’m better than him.’ He’s fooling his fan base. People should pressure him. The least he could do is say, ‘Fuck, I’ll show my fans that I’m the best and that’s why they follow me,’ but that’s not what he’s doing. He’s scared.”

Adesanya (22-1) is expected to defend his 185-pound title against Jared Cannonier at some point later this year. Pereira (4-1), meanwhile, will look to improve his UFC record to 2-0 when he battles Brazilian bruiser Bruno Silva at UFC Vegas 50 this weekend in Las Vegas.

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