Israel Adesanya’s last three fights in the Octagon have gone to a decision — and he’s won them all convincingly.
With that said, some fans feel the Nigerian is becoming increasingly risk-averse and is doing just what he has to get by on the judges’ scorecards and retain his middleweight title.
In other words, he’s coasting.
This might be the popular narrative following Adesanya’s most recent title defense at UFC 276 where ‘The Last Stylebender’ cruised to a unanimous decision win against Jared Cannonier, but that’s not the way Alex Pereira sees it.
Speaking to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz on a recent episode of Portuguese-speaking podcast Trocação Franca, ‘Poatan’ opined that Adesanya is ‘giving it his best’ — but his best just isn’t good enough.
“I’ll tell you this, I think he’s giving his all in his fights but sometimes his all isn’t just to attack, it’s about the defense, because that’s the toughest part,” Pereira, who is 2-0 against Adesanya in kickboxing, said. “What he does is the toughest part, to defend yourself. He’s a complete guy. You see, grapplers who fought him didn’t do well because he’s different, he’s good.”
“But what he’s doing, do you think — just like my fight, I had the opportunity to KO [Strickland], but said [before the fight] I wanted to fight three rounds. He went down, the referee didn’t stop it, am I going to let him get back up? Of course not. I’ll give my all there, and that’s what he’s doing, that’s what he’s been able to do.
“You think he wouldn’t KO the guy if he could? ‘Oh, I’m going to make it look like an easy fight.’ You think he didn’t want [to KO him]? Of course he did, but the other guy didn’t let him do it. He’s giving his best in there. There’s no way, you can’t control it. What he’s doing there is his best. Who doesn’t want [a KO]? If you can have the power to retain the title by submission or knockout, who wouldn’t want that?”
Pereira extended his UFC record to 3-0 (6-1 MMA) following his first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276. The Brazilian understands why Adesanya didn’t give him props for the win and thinks the City Kickboxing talent is still bitter about their last fight at Glory of Heroes 7 which saw Pereira flatten Adesanya with a left hook in the third round.
“Of course, he’d never give me props, but what he thinks or doesn’t think doesn’t change a thing to me,” Pereira said. “You have to ask him if he was impressed when I knocked him out. Was he not impressed? If he wasn’t, he’s sick. If he was impressed in his own fight [at UFC 276], that’s good enough to me.”
Speaking of the rematch, which will take place under the UFC banner, Pereira anticipates a great fight that is sure to sell a lot of pay-per-views.
“People are watching [my UFC fights] and they know it’s going to be a good fight,” he said. “People saw my fights with him and how it went. Even the first one, I didn’t win by knockout, it was by points, but it was a fight that excited everybody. It’s going to be a great fight, man.”
Pereira is currently #6 in the UFC middleweight rankings, and the only fighter to ever KO Adesanya in combat sports.