Israel Adesanya doesn’t want to be the favorite for UFC 281.
The UFC middleweight champion said at Wednesday’s press conference that he needs some more pressure added onto him ahead of his title defense against former foe Alex Pereira.
“I like it on me in this one. I saw last night, I’m like, ‘Why am I the favorite in this on the betting odds?’ I never check them but I just happened to see something on Instagram and I was like, ‘How the f–k am I the favorite?’ I feel like we should change that.
“How do we change that or something, fake an injury? I don’t know. We’ll see. I think we should bet on him this fight. Yeah, we’ll just see what happens.”
The media has continuously stirred the old rivalry between Adesanya and Pereira ever since Pereira signed with the UFC late this past summer.
Adesanya and Pereira previously met in two kickboxing bouts. The current UFC champion won the first by a controversial decision, but was knocked out in the second matchup.
Since then, both fighters have found success in the UFC.
Adesanya has a near-flawless resume; the only blemish was a double-champion attempt at light heavyweight against Jan Blachowicz, which he lost by unanimous decision in March 2021. Pereira is 3-0 in the promotion; in his latest bout, he took out Sean Strickland in the first round.
That was in November 2021.
Now they meet in the main event at UFC 281 on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Pereira said at the presser that even if he upsets Adesanya, he would still grant him a rematch.
“It makes no difference who they want to put after (to challenge for the belt),” Pereira told reporters through an interpreter. “He deserves it, but after this fight he isn’t going to want it.”