Israel Adesanya Expresses Respect For Former Championship Opponent Alex Pereira

After a five fight rivalry with Alex Pereira, former dominant UFC middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya has buried the hatchet, and seems to have much respect for his past championship opponent.

With two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, Pereira was able to overcome the dynamic striker’s once again at UFC 281 in 2022 with a fifth round TKO. He earned the middleweight belt in the process, which set up an imediate rematch with “The Last Stylebender”. In their MMA rematch, Adesanya was finally able to solve the problem, unloading with a series of counterstrikes with his back to the cage just five months later at UFC 287.

In a recent exclusive interview with Demetrious Johnson, Adesanya exclaimed his praise for the skill that Pereira possesses.

“He’s a special fighter,” Adesanya told Demetrious Johnson. “He’s a special human being. What he’s done in this game, in fighting, and for his life as well, I’ll always respect him. I’m grateful for those moments because, for me, it taught me so much about myself and where I can go.”

Additionally, the former champion reflected on the time that he shared in the ring and cage with “Poatan”. He even went on to indicate that rivalry is behind him, and he now wants to make room for other fights he is interested in before he decides to retire.

“People, they’re so f*cking stupid,” Adesanya said. “First fight in China, I thought I won. These casuals don’t. These plebs don’t. I thought I won. Even he thought I won until he got his hand raised. Second fight, I’m beating his ass and he gets me. Again in New York (at UFC 281), I’m beating him. Rocked him, took him down, held him down, beat him, and he gets me. … I just knew that I can beat this guy. It wasn’t about proving it to anyone else. It was about myself. I know I can beat this guy.

“So that last Miami one, I was in a different place. I had to tap into some darkness for that camp. People who knew me, I was different. Ain’t no way this motherf*cker is beating me four times. It’s about the story. So, now I’ve beat him once. How ironic. I beat him once, but then watch this. If I fight him again and knock him out, what are they going to say, ‘It’s 3-2. It’s now best out of seven.’ I’m 34, man. I’ve only got a certain amount of fights left. Why am I going to fight the same guy however many times? I just want to prove to myself.”

Next for Adesanya, he is rumored to make his octagon return at UFC 305 in Perth on August 17th versus reigning 185-pound titleholder Dricus Du Plessis. This all African highly anticipated matchup is in no way official at this time, but speculation indicates this is the play to make.

Pereira seems to have also moved on from the rivalry, given his newfound success at light heavyweight. The Brazilian made the jump up to 205-pounds last July and has since found himself on a 3-fight win streak with the belt in his hand. Most recently, he is coming off a massive title defense victory in the main event versus former champion Jamahal Hill at UFC 300 earlier this month.

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