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‘I know it’s still there’ - Alex Pereira says Israel Adesanya still thinks about his KO loss

The UFC middleweight challenger is sure Adesanya hasn’t let go of his KO loss to him in the kickboxing ring. 

Alex Pereira at the UFC 281 pre-fight press conference.
Alex Pereira at the UFC 281 pre-fight press conference.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Alex Pereira doubts Israel Adesanya has forgotten about what happened in their previous outing at Glory of Heroes 7 over five years ago.

Pereira defeated Adesanya by third-round KO. It was the first—and only—time the ‘Last Stylebender’ has been finished in his combat sports career. Ahead of their UFC 281 title fight, video of the KO went viral. Adesanya noted that he’s seen it again now, several times, but to hear him tell it, he’s accepted the outcome and moved on. Pereira isn’t so sure, however, that his former foe has really let the KO go.

“It’s still there, for sure,” said Pereira through a translator at UFC 281 media day (video provided by MMA Fighting). “I don’t know how it’s going to be or how he could possibly erase that from his mind, but I know it’s still there.”

Heading into their championship fight at UFC 281 on Saturday, Pereira laid out his advantages over Adesanya. Aside from the mental one, ‘Po Atan’ said he also has a physical one, especially since he has two wins over Adesanya on his résumé.

And though he has far less experience in an Octagon than the reigning UFC middleweight champion, Pereira is still confident he can best Adesanya, regardless of what kind of fight they may end up having.

“We’ve both evolved a lot, but I think I have the edge in kickboxing because I’ve evolved a lot after the fight,” said Pereira. “People want to say, ‘Oh, but now this is an MMA fight.’ But many people think this is going to be a kickboxing fight inside of an Octagon. So with that said, who do you think is going to have the edge? Me, [who] kept doing kickboxing for all those years, or him, [who] stopped training kickboxing?”

UFC 281 goes down on Sat., Nov. 12, at Madison Square Garden in New York.