Israel Adesanya recently said “To hell with the belt” and that all he wants at UFC 281 is to beat Alex Pereira at Madison Square Garden in New York, but Poatan doesn’t believe that.
Speaking on this week’s edition of the MMA Fighting podcast free exchangePereira said these comments are confusing to him because defeating him would already mean he still holds the middleweight belt.
“If he really wanted it, he would have done it as soon as I signed with the UFC,” Pereira said. “He is forced to fight, he is a champion. Obviously he cares about the belt.”
Pereira defeated Adesanya twice in kickboxing before he became a two-division champion at Glory, while “The Last Style Bender” went full-time in MMA shortly after his second loss to Pereira, joining the UFC a year later and starting an incredible streak. which led him to win the UFC title.
The Brazilian thinks it’s not just his previous kickboxing victories over the UFC champion that worries him, but that “he knows how dangerous I am.”
“He knows I’m not like the other guys he fought, otherwise the results of both of our fights would have been different,” said Pereira. “He knows that I am different, and I prove it. I show it in my three UFC fights. I’m honest here. He doesn’t want this fight. Nobody wants. His team doesn’t want that. People close to him do not want this, because they know about the risk. He is good? Is he a champion? He’s there because he did what he did. Everyone knows my potential and sees my evolution.
“Immediately after I got into the UFC, he said he wanted to fight me, maybe after four fights, but ‘calm down’. He wanted [to fight me], but only after I had four fights. Why? He thought that I could lose to someone, and he would say: “Is this the guy you want me to fight?” I never believed in it, but some did. Others understand that now he was bluffing. This is not what he wants.
“Immediately after it was announced that my next fight would be for the belt against him, he and his whole team said it was a little unfair that I was fighting for the belt because I had just arrived that Adesanya had so many fights. and I should do the same. Man, I just hear it and take it as something positive for me. It shows me that he pretended to want [to fight me] and when I came here, his whole team was against it. It shows them all, he and his team are mentally shaken.”
Pereira won’t cling to the fact that he beat Adesanya in another sport, as that would mean he’ll be successful in MMA.
“He wants to survive,” Pereira said. “I can’t stay attached to the two fights I had with him and end up in the middle of the octagon, arms crossed and he goes down. I have to impose my rhythm and my game in order to win. I can’t think about our two fights or the knockout. Every fight is different. I have to go there and do what I’ve learned and be better than him.”
UFC commentator Michael Bisping recently said he didn’t foresee Adesanya defending Poatan at UFC 281, and the challenger agreed. However, Pereira said he has strategies prepared for whatever type of game Adesanya plays in the octagon, including standing still like he did against Yoel Romero.
“He can’t fight the way he fought, he’s going to have to be more aggressive,” Pereira said. “I’m ready for it. We are talking about MMA, not kickboxing. I think he’s getting more aggressive and that’s perfect for me.”
Pereira’s victory at Madison Square Garden would make him the first person to win belts in both Glory and the UFC, and join Anderson Silva and Murilo Bustamante as the UFC’s 185-pound Brazilian champions. This feat alone, he says, will already make his career better than Adesanya’s.
“If you look at what I did as a two-time champion at the biggest [kickboxing] organization in Glory, that’s what Adesanya tried and lost to the fighters I beat,” Pereira said. “We know that it is very difficult to become a champion in Glory. I made five title defenses and became light heavyweight champion. Switch to another sport and become a champion?
“Example: Adesanya loses to me [at UFC 281] and I’m a UFC champion. I am better [than him] because I was a champion in two divisions in another sport, and I have a history, and a champion in the largest organizations [Glory and UFC]. He was the only champion in the UFC – which is a lot, a lot – [but] I would consider my career more challenging than his.
“This is my point of view. Now I don’t know if people see it that way, but I do because I know what I’ve been through and what challenges I’ve had to face. He knows it too, because he tried and failed.”
And the fans who call him arrogant for bragging about his victory over Adesanya in kickboxing, he just doesn’t give a damn.
“The other day I posted something, and someone wrote: “Be humble. The champion himself posted a video of you knocking him out,” Pereira said. “Fuck, so tell him to post a video where he knocks me out. He doesn’t have it. Today I knocked out a guy who is a UFC champion. It doesn’t matter if it was 30 years ago, it’s part of my history and people want to take that away from me. It does not make sense”.