Israel Adesanya Discusses Alex Pereira Rivalry, Calls Him a Special Human Being

Despite their fierce rivalry in the ring, Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira share a mutual respect for each other, with Adesanya finally defeating Pereira at UFC 287 in April 2023 to regain the middleweight championship, marking his first win in their four-fight series.

Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, huh? They’ve had their fair share of fiery feuds, both in the ring and the cage. But, outside of that? It’s all love, man.

These two have faced off in two kickboxing matches and one UFC title fight. And finally, at UFC 287 in April 2023, Adesanya managed to defeat Pereira. That was his first win in their four-fight series.

But, things didn’t stay rosy for Adesanya. He lost the title to Sean Strickland and took a self-imposed break. Pereira, on the other hand, moved up a division and snagged the light heavyweight championship.

Despite their rivalry, Adesanya and Pereira have had their fun. They’ve poked fun at each other, but they’ve also publicly acknowledged their mutual respect. Adesanya even considers his time with Pereira as one of the defining stories of his career.

Adesanya once told Demetrious Johnson on the MightyCast, “Honestly, he’s a special fighter. He’s a special human being.” He respects Pereira for what he’s achieved in the game and in life. Adesanya learned a lot about himself from their fights.

He also mentioned his fight with Kelvin Gastelum. That fight pushed him to his limits. But with Pereira, he was ready to give it all. He knew he could go more, do more. And he promised, it wouldn’t take another seven years to get Strickland.

The history between Adesanya and Pereira is well-documented. Pereira won their first kickboxing bout, albeit controversially. Their second bout ended with Pereira delivering a knockout punch.

In their first MMA fight at UFC 281, Adesanya was leading before Pereira ended the fight in the fifth round. When they had a rematch at UFC 287, Pereira celebrated his KO victory in style. He even mocked Adesanya, just like his son did after their second kickboxing fight.

Adesanya has only been defeated three times in MMA – twice by Pereira, once by Strickland, and once by Jan Blachowicz in a light heavyweight title fight. He’s currently waiting for his next booking, possibly with middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis. But as long as he and Pereira are active, fans will always want a third fight.

Both fighters have been asked about a trilogy bout. But Adesanya isn’t convinced it’s necessary. He believes he won their first fight in China. He was leading in their second fight before Pereira got him.

Adesanya knew he could beat Pereira. It wasn’t about proving it to anyone else, it was about proving it to himself. He was in a different place for their last fight in Miami. He had to tap into some darkness for that camp.

He beat Pereira once. If he fights him again and knocks him out, what then? A best-out-of-seven series? At 34, Adesanya doesn’t want to keep fighting the same guy. He just wanted to prove to himself who’s the best.


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