When Israel Adesanya switched to MMA in 2017, he wasn't thinking about getting even. With consecutive first-round knockout victories that secured him a UFC deal, Adesanya played up to his reputation by defeating Rob Wilkinson in the second round in his UFC debut.
Except for a failed attempt to become a double champion against Jan Blachowicz, Adesanya hasn't lost a fight since. Adesanya asserts that he has advanced significantly after his KO loss to Pereira because he has carved out a place for himself in MMA history.
The only knockout loss of Adesanya's career, in his opinion, actually strengthened him in a variety of ways. But whether he asked for it or not, he understands that he now has the chance to change the course of history. The Last Stylebender claimed in an interview with The Allstar that:
“There’s a little extra motivation, definitely. Now that it’s here, I didn’t ask for it, the universe bestowed this upon me, and it’s a great opportunity to rewrite history."
Israel Adesanya, the middleweight champion of the UFC, is eager to take on Alex Pereira. On Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York, Adesanya will face Pereira in the main event of UFC 281, hoping to record his sixth successful championship defense. Adesanya is eager to avenge his two kickboxing defeats against Pereira, one of which was by knockout.
The 33-year-old said in a fight camp video uploaded to his YouTube channel:
"Beating him, that's what matters. Like, the belt, f**k the belt. Just beating him, a killer like him, that's what matters."
In 2016, Adesanya and Pereira had their debut fight under the Glory Kickboxing brand. Adesanya was defeated by "Poatan," who won by unanimous decision. A year later, the two faced off again, with Pereira delivering a more convincing victory. Adesanya was initially outworking Pereira, but in the third round, "Poatan" knocked him out with his trademark left hook.
Pereira is considered the most likely candidate to end Adesanya's dominant middleweight title reign based on their prior performance.
“We’ve dusted that off, we’ve cut it off, and I can see what I did wrong,” Adesanya said. “So, it’s not gonna be like last time. This is a different fighter you’re facing, and now I’ve become another fighter. I’ve re-birthed myself. I’ve re-birthed it, and I just feel like I want to have fun. That’s the goal. But this fight, I’m gonna have fun. That’s the ultimate goal. And when I have fun, I’m the best in the world.”