Israel Adesanya is coming off arguably his biggest career victory to date after stopping Alex Pereira via second-round knockout at UFC 287 to win back his undisputed UFC middleweight title. What makes Adesanya’s performance even more special is the fact that he trained for that exact situation.
This most recent fight with Pereira was not an easy task for “Last Stylebender.” Pereira had beaten Adesanya twice before inside of the kickboxing ring and was coming off a shocking knockout win over the Nigerian fighter at UFC 281 in Nov. 2022. Adesanya was trying to overcome a 0-3 deficit against “Poatan” and few believed he’d be able to ward off the powerful strikes of the champion.
Luckily for Adesanya, he was able to walk through everything Pereira had to offer in the early going of their UFC 287 rematch. It allowed Adesanya the opportunity to lure Pereira along the cage and properly time one of the greatest counter combinations the UFC has ever seen. Adesanya’s onslaught left Pereira motionless on the canvas as “Last Stylebender” hoisted his 185-pound title once again.
A few days after his victory Adesanya had a chance to break down his sensational knockout performance. According to the new champion, he played a little “rope-a-dope” in order to set a trap for Pereira.
⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) April 12, 2023
Rope-a-dope without the ropes.
Always inspired by the G.O.A.T!! pic.twitter.com/ec2vwq58wK
“I wanted him to get comfortable,” said Adesanya in a video posted to Twitter (shown above). “He thinks I’m a punching bag now. ‘Oh, I can just tee off on him.’ I’m not these other guys that you fight with, bro. I’m not these other f—king blood clots.”
Adesanya, who is now 13-2 as a member of the UFC roster, has cleared out just about everyone there is in the middleweight division. With Pereira taking his talents to light heavyweight it’s unknown at this time who “Last Stylebender” will meet next. It could be a trilogy bout with Robert Whittaker or a massive fight opposite undefeated Chechen contender, Khamzat Chimaev.
Either way, Adesanya seems dialed in and more confident than ever after disposing of Pereira and putting an end to his own personal boogeyman.