Of course, many felt that a showdown between the two would be rushed by the promotion given the built-in narrative. Technically, Alex Pereira and Adesanya’s main event clash at UFC 281 will be a trilogy bout with the two prior meetings taking place under the Glory of Heroes banner years back. In those two meetings, Alex Pereira was the victory and famously knocked out ‘The Last Stylebender’ in their 2017 bout. It was the first and only time Adesanya has been knocked out in combat sports.
Adesanya has received criticism as of late for his lack of activity in his world title defenses, particularly in his most recent contest against Jared Cannonier. Adesanya opted to keep his distance through the 25-minute affair. It was nothing out of the ordinary as the champion implored the same sleep-inducing tactics against Yoel Romero in their UFC 248 meeting. What seemed to strike a chord with fans was Adesanya’s talk that he was only interested in giving exciting performances and highlight reel finishes leading up to the mundane match-up.
Getting his chance to defeat Adesanya for the third time, Alex Pereria has no intentions of letting Adesanya dance along the outside on his way to another humdrum decision.
“I can tell you that it will be impossible for him not to engage, if he’s within my reach I will hurt him,” Pereira said while speaking to Brazilian MMA Fighters. “And five rounds he won’t make it, five rounds? And I come close, you can see in the fights that I come close, I have a very good defense. He will want to attack or counterattack, but I can hurt him with my defense too.
“I saw in his fights that he kicks a lot and the guys don’t have the right time, the right time to block, you can hurt him with a block. The guy kicked, you blocked, maybe he won’t kick anymore. He’s got a big weapon and I can sort of eliminate it early on, I’ll be close to him, if he doesn’t hit me he’ll get beaten, and if he hits me he’ll get as tired as me.“
‘Triple C’ Henry Cejudo is Backing Alex Pereira to Defeat Israel Adesanya
Former two-division world champion Henry Cejudo is gearing up for his own return to the Octagon. No official date has been announced for the return of ‘Triple C,’ but the Olympian has been vocal when discussing some of the UFC’s highly anticipated bouts. Speaking on his YouTube channel, Cejudo discussed the upcoming clash between champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Alex Pereira. The former champ-champ revealed that he believes Alex Pereira will walk away with the gold, and likely by way of knockout.
“This is interesting because Israel Adesanya hasn’t had the best performances and him not having the best performances, I’m saying being boring and everybody being critical of him, me being one of them,” Cejudo said. “But I do believe with this fight you are gonna have two strikers, and I don’t think this fight is gonna go five rounds. I really don’t. I think just for the simple fact that Alex Pereira has experience with Israel Adesanya, and this is the way I see the fight coming out.
“Obviously Israel is a champion for a reason, but I also see the more the diversity that Pereira has I think is what makes him a little more dangerous, because there is one thing that Israel does leave behind, which is very wide, so I think he may end up changing this during the fight is his stance.
“Notice he’s very heavy on his legs, because he’s able to rock back and forth, and really a lot of mixed martial artists haven’t been able to take advantage of that front leg. But when you got a guy like Pereira who’s been there before, who’s a kickboxer, who’s known for kicking, this is where the fight could pay dividends on his side.”
Opening odds for the contest had Adesanya as a -200 favorite with Alex Pereira listed as a +170 underdog. Those odds have since shifted with ‘The Last Stylbender’ being slightly less favored at -165 while ‘Poatan’ is +140. Given the history between the two and Adesanya’s seemingly uninspired performances as a champion, it would not be a surprise to see those odds shift again as we get closer to UFC 281.