Even though their bouts were in kickboxing, Alex Pereira, who faces Sean Strickland at UFC 276, feels Israel Adesanya will do everything in his power to not face him in MMA
Alex Pereira may not be the most experienced MMA fighter, with just two UFC bouts and six MMA fights total, but he’s a much well-known name in the community.
In fact, he’s quite the familiar face to current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Pereira, the former GLORY Kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight champion, fought Israel Adesanya twice in kickboxing. Pereira won both times, winning the April 2016 fight by decision and their March 2017 fight by a brutal knockout.
Adesanya has recently claimed that both kickboxing bouts were closer than what the record books would say, but Pereira feels the results may be very similar if the two were to ever meet in MMA.
UFC 276: Alex Pereira says Israel Adesanya doesn’t want to fight him, thinks he can make Adesanya leave on a stretcher again
“[His comments] actually make me confused,” Pereira said, via a translator, at his UFC 276 media day scrum. “The knockout he claimed to be [by] a pillow [the gloves]. Now we talk about four-ounce gloves. It is deadly weapons, but with the big pillows already making him leave on a stretcher with a gas [oxygen] balloon on him, imagine what is going to happen on the four ounces.”
Following the knockout loss to Pereira, Adesanya fully committed to a sole focus on MMA, which led him to the UFC, and he eventually claimed the UFC middleweight championship at UFC 243.
After a long desire to rejoin MMA following three bouts on the regional circuit in 2015 and 2016, Pereira scored a first-round knockout of Thomas Powell at LFA 95 before jumping to the UFC.
Pereira’s Octagon debut saw him score an early second-round finish of Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268 in November and a unanimous decision win over Bruno Silva in March.
Pereira is confident that a win at UFC 276 over Sean Strickland will earn him the No. 1 contender’s spot for the middleweight title, regardless of whether Adesanya or Jared Cannonier stands victorious at night’s end.
But Pereira feels if Adesanya really wanted to face Pereira again, he would have asked the UFC to do so already.
“I believe Adesanya is going to win [against Cannonier], even though he don’t seem to be too focused on it because he’s been talking about me so much for this past week,” Pereira said. “He should be focused more on the fight that he has because he has a dangerous fight, but I still believe that he’s going to win and I’m rooting for him.
“I don’t think he wants to fight due to the history that we have. If he really wanted the fight when I first signed to the UFC, he wouldn’t let me do three fights like I’m doing now. He [would have gone[ into the organization say ‘Look, if he agrees, I want to do a rubber match right now and I want to get back those losses.’
“But after my win [at UFC 268 in Madison Square Garden], he said I still have four more wins before reaching him. This is the third, but now he goes and says that he wants to fight me next and everything that he’s saying because he sees that it’s on the contract so he has nowhere else to run.”
Of course, before Adesanya, Pereira will have to worry about Strickland, who has been making his own rise since coming back from a two-year layoff at the end of 2020 due to a motorcycle accident.
Strickland’s run since his return has seen him score wins over Jack Marshman, Brendan Allen, Krzysztof Jotko, Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson.
“[He’s a] dangerous guy, very tough guy, No. 4 in the rankings,” Pereira said. “That’s why I prepared so well for this fight.”