Israel Adesanya thinks he’s done a lot for the career of his upcoming opponent, Alex Pereira.
The UFC middleweight champion believes he’s partly responsible for Pereira’s quick rise to success in MMA, specifically the UFC. Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC), who has two losses against Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in the kickboxing world – once by KO and the other by decision, fights the Brazilian once again. However, this time it will be MMA, Saturday in the main event of UFC 281 in New York. It’s Adesanya’s sixth defense of his UFC middleweight belt.
“Without me, he wouldn’t be here,” Adesanya said on The MMA Hour. “Without me, he would’ve been exposed a long time ago. I cleared the way. I cleared the division, so there was not really anyone else to fight. I cleared the way for him to get to the top.”
Pereira has only been in the UFC for a year, and he’s already competing for a title. He made his debut in November 2021 knocking out Andreas Michailidis, and since has defeated Bruno Silva and Sean Strickland.
Given their past history, in which Adesanya came out with the short end of the stick, this fight has become a personal matter for the champion. Adesanya believes this bout will play a key role in his legacy.
“It’s personal,” Adesanya said. “This is about me and my legacy. This is about re-writing history even though it is history and I never chased this. This is about me re-writing a new path in history and just showing people what I can really do, because, again, ya’ll must have forgot. … This is personal. I’ve said less. He can do all the tennis ball videos and hoverboard but for me, I’m just like, ‘Cool, you do you.’ He has bragging rights, so let him do that, but yeah.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 281.