Israel Adesanya is one of the UFC’s most discussed, up-and-coming middleweights following his UFC 230 finish of Derek Brunson, where he improved to 15-0 in MMA.
But prior to his December 2017 signing with the UFC, Adesanya also competed in kickboxing, where he was once a GLORY Middleweight Title challenger. And while he racked up 75 wins in 81 bouts, it was in that sport where he met the only man to knock him out in any combat sport — current GLORY Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira.
“It’s complicated for any tough MMA fighter to fight Adesanya because he’s really good,” Pereira said. “His distance and defense are his differential. Other fighters don’t have a defense that good. Adesanya is very precise, he just moves his head a few inches to escape from strikes and he’s already back in range to attack again.”
Pereira and Adesanya first met at Glory of Heroes 1 in China back in 2016, with Pereira taking a unanimous decision that the current UFC middleweight did not agree with. Pereira proved the win wasn’t a fluke in a rematch the next year, however, knocking Adesanya out in a March 2017 encounter.
The rematch, the first round was back and forth. The second round, he connected a good hand that rocked me. I was getting beat for two minutes, but my body was resting. Not that I wanted to, he was imposing his will, but my body was resting and he was getting tired. He put a lot of pressure but couldn’t drop me.
“We went to the third round and he was tired. He was winning the fight, but I told my corners I was going to knock him out,” Pereira said. “It wasn’t luck, I knew I would knock him out. I moved straight forward and used the straight right and left cross, good weapons I have. It wasn’t luck. It landed on his chin and he couldn’t take it. He had a few rough days after that.”
According to Pereira, he has no fights left on his GLORY contract, which expires in April 2019, and he is looking to receive a release from the promotion to return to MMA. Pereira has competed in professional MMA three times — all in Jungle Fight — losing his first fight by submission but winning the next two via KO.
Pereira attempted to take a fight with Diego Henrique da Silva for a bout on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Brazil, but he claims GLORY did not allow him to do so.
Pereira made his third successful GLORY Middleweight Title defense back in September against the man he won it from, Simon Marcus. Pereira now says he will wait out his contract if GLORY does not let him go, as he’s focused completely on returning to mixed martial arts, claiming to be looking at two offers from big MMA promotions.
And while he was very successful in kickboxing, he feels he can replicate it in MMA. And that includes a fight with Adesanya.
“I’m stronger than [Adesanya]. At the weigh-ins, I would tell him ‘if you take me to the ground, I’ll know you’re scared of my hands,'” Pereira said. “And I’m no fool on the ground.
I want to be known, I want to show everyone that someone who was born and raised in a favela can reach the top, can reach the highest level. I never moved to another country to train and became champion at Glory. That’s great to show that everyone can achieve great things.
Original Story: MMA Fighting