At UFC 281 next weekend, Adesanya will look to make the sixth successful defense of his 185-pound gold. Previously, the Nigerian-New Zealander has seen off challenges from Costa, Yoel Romero, Marvin Vettori, Robert Whittaker, and Jared Cannonier.
Now, Adesanya is in for a unique challenge against a familiar foe. While unbeaten at middleweight in the UFC, with his sole promotional loss coming at light heavyweight on the scorecards, “The Last Stylebender” has been knocked out once in his combat sports career — in kickboxing against Pereira, who also outpointed Adesanya in a prior clash.
Having followed Adesanya over to MMA and won his first three fights under the UFC banner, “Poatan” has earned a title shot and a unique trilogy fight with the promotion’s current middleweight king.
Ahead of fight week, the buildup to the UFC 281 headliner has certainly been interesting, with the challenger largely mocking Adesanya’s training techniques with social media videos. In one instance, Pereira responded to a video of the champ dodging tennis balls against a wall by sparring on a hoverboard.
For Adesanya, Pereira’s ‘trolling’ bares resemblance to one of his compatriots and fellow middleweight contenders — “Borrachinha.”
In an interview with The AllStar, “The Last Stylebender” compared Pereira’s videos to the online presence of Costa, who’s developed a reputation for posting memes and trolls on social media in recent years.
“(Pereira is) giving me fucking mad Costa vibes, bro,” Adesanya said. “Like literally, he did the Segway thing, the hoverboard thing – and I didn’t even know that was a diss at me, so I was kinda like, ‘Really? Okay whatever.’ And then he recently just did the tennis ball thing, I seen that on the ‘Gram and I was just like, ‘Okay.'”
Adesanya Plans To Respond To Pereira With “Violence”
Rather than engage in his rival’s pre-fight antics, Adesanya said he’s choosing to stay 100% focused on the task at hand, and let his fists do the talking inside the Octagon come November 12.
“I remember Costa was doing skits with his guys and all that shit,” Adesanya recalled. “Same thing, I don’t react. I’m like, ‘What do you want from me?’ He wants me to react. I don’t react. But I will respond. And I will respond with violence when it’s time.”
When he enters the Octagon for the third time in 2022, Adesanya will be doing so for a headliner inside the prestigious Madison Square Garden in New York. The showdown with Pereira will mark his first outing at MSG since UFC 230, where he decimated Derek Brunson in one round.
He’ll be looking for a similar standout performance next weekend having come under scrutiny for the manner of his recent wins. As well as proving his detractors wrong, through, Adesanya will be targeting retribution against the man who boasts two victories over him in combat sports.
What have you made of the buildup to Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira?
All quotes from The AllStar.