The challenger currently holds a 2-0 series advantage over Adesanya having beaten the UFC middleweight champion twice in kickboxing. Their first bout was a closely contested affair that Pereira won by split decision and their second bout ended with an incredible knockout win for Pereira that has been replayed countless times ahead of their UFC 281 main event clash in New York.
While Adesanya is strictly business heading into his next title defense, he’s aware that there are narrative stakes on the line this Saturday.
“It is [business], but it’s personal,” Adesanya said on The MMA Hour. “This is about me and my legacy. This is about rewriting history. Even though it is history and I never chased this, this is about me rewriting a new path of history and just showing people what I can really do because, again, y’all must’ve forgot. They forget, they always forget. It’s because of this Tik Tok era, the attention span is so quick, they move on so fast.
“So this is personal. For me, I’ve said less, he can do all the tennis ball videos and f****** hoverboard things he wants, but for me I’m just like, ‘Cool. You do you.’ He has bragging rights, so let him do that, but when it’s time I know something he doesn’t. I can’t tell you.”
Pereira earns his UFC title shot in just his eighth pro MMA bout and his fourth for the promotion, but has a wealth of kickboxing experience including championship wins in two divisions for Glory Kickboxing. He is 3-0 in the UFC and was chosen to be Adesanya’s next challenger after first-round knockout of Sean Strickland this past July.
The Brazilian striker has been on the fast track to a fight with Adesanya since making his UFC debut in November 2021 and Adesanya thinks he deserves some credit for removing all the other contenders from Pereira’s title path.
Adesanya has yet to lose in the UFC when competing at 185 pounds and has successfully defended the undisputed title five consecutive times. As for what went wrong in the second fight, in which Adesanya appeared to be leading the dance before a left hand from “Poatan” turned his lights off, Adesanya believes that he went away from what was working and it cost him.
Whatever secret strategy Adesanya is planning to make sure that his third fight with Pereira ends differently, he won’t reveal it.
“I’m excited for this one for different reasons,” Adesanya said. “I know something you don’t. [About me], f*** him.”