On Sunday, November 13 at Madison Square Garden, Kiwi and Nigerian fighter Israel Adesanya will put his title on the line once again, this time against an old kickboxing foe in Alex Pereira. In the latest fight odds from 888 Sport, Adesanya is the favourite in the current betting odds.
Are the bookmakers right to have The Last Stylebender as the favourite or are they doing a disservice to the skill and experience of Alex Pereira. To find out the answer to that question, read on for our in-depth preview of one of the most eagerly anticipated UFC matchups of the year.
Who is Israel Adesanya?
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Adesanya began fighting at an early age, enrolling in a Taekwondo after-school club in his native Nigeria before moving to New Zealand with his family at the age of 10.
After being bullied in school, Adesanya took up kickboxing at the age of 18 and quickly found out that he was a talented fighter. After amassing an impressive amateur record of 32-0 he turned professional and began fighting in China.
Adesanya’s kickboxing talent saw him fighting in the Glory Middleweight Championship where he twice faced off against Alex Pereira (more on that later). The Last Stylebender’s UFC debut came at UFC 221 where he beat Rob Wilkinson by TKO.
Since joining UFC, Adesanya’s record stands at an impressive 23-1-0.
(Highlights of Israel Adesanya’s UFC debut against Rob Wilkinson.)
Who is Alex Pereira?
Born in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, a young Alex Pereira grew up in a favela and experienced addiction problems in his early years, becoming an alcoholic. In a bid to kick his relationship with booze, Pereira took up kickboxing.
The discipline and training needed in the sport helped him to fend off the temptations to drink with his hard work being rewarded in 2014 when he won Glory 14 in Zagreb, beating Dustin Jacoby and Sahak Parparyan in the semi-final and final respectively.
Unlike Adesanya, Pereira spent much longer in kickboxing, fine-tuning his craft and dominating his opponents. The Poatan’s UFC debut came in November, 2021 at UFC 268 where he beat Andreas Michailidis by TKO in the second round.
In his year or so of fighting in the UFC, Pereira has a record of 6-1-0.
(Alex Pereira hitting Andreas Michailidis with a flying knee.)
Adesanya – Pereira History
The two fighters have met before, but back in their kickboxing days before either had made the step up to the UFC. So, how did those fights play out? Not particularly well for Israel Adesanya.
In their first fight at Glory of Heroes in Shanghai, China, Adesanya was full of fight and energy but still finished on the losing side of the bout with the judges scoring the fight unanimously in Pereira’s favour.
Technically, Pereira was the far superior fighter on the evening, outclassing Adesanya in almost every area. In the rematch one year later Adesanya came flying out of the blocks, hitting Pereira with a flurry of kicks and punches in the opening two rounds.
Somehow, against all the odds the Brazilian fighter survived those early attacks and came out swinging in the third and final round, landing a huge uppercut that knocked Adesanya out.
(Watch as Alex Pereira sends Israel Adesanya to sleep.)
Will History Repeat Itself in November?
The question on everyone’s lips is whether Israel Adesanya can get revenge on Alex Pereira or whether or not history will repeat itself once again. What stands in Adesanya’s favour is his record and experience fighting in the UFC.
During his 24 fights in the octagon he has not only improved on the aspects of his game that suited kickboxing well, but he has demonstrated an ability to fight in other ways. Pereira on the other hand, simply does not have that same level of experience in the Octagon.
The one caveat that stands in Pereira’s favour is that he knows he has the upper hand on Adesanya when it comes to standing up fighting. In both previous clashes he has demonstrated a technical superiority, a cast iron mental resilience and explosive, knockout power.
All of which would lead us to tentatively get behind Pereira, that is unless of course, Adesanya decides to make the fight as far removed from a kickboxing bout as possible.
Think we’re onto something here or think we’re talking garbage? Let us know in the comments section below.