Adesanya fought Pereira for the third time in combat sports. At UFC 281, he suffered his second MMA loss at the hands of his long-time rival. Despite being down on the scorecards, Pereira rallied back in the fifth round to pull off a knockout win over Adesanya. It was similar to their second kickboxing fight in 2017.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Adesanya assured that he feels good despite losing the UFC middleweight title. He also said that he’s certain that he will fight Pereira again at least two more times.
“I’ll still fight him. I’m crazy bro. I can beat him. I know I can beat him, You’ve seen I can beat him. I wouldn’t say luck. He just invested well [into] a good gameplan. He’s a good fighter. It’s my ego, maybe sure but I’m allowed. I just believe I’m better.”
Israel Adesanya Wants To Run It Back With Pereira
An immediate rematch could be a possibility for Adesanya. He’s 0-3 against Pereira but the 33-year-old believes he can beat the new champion.
In Round 4, he threw a leg kick that seemed to hurt him. He fell backwards but quickly recovered to avoid getting finished by Pereira. Adesanya says a previous injury and leg kicks contributed to his loss.
“He damaged me in the sense that it compromised my footwork… It wasn’t from the check. It’s because when you kick you’re balancing on one leg and the leg was already compromised. My PCL was already hurt from my previous fight and it got damaged again through the fight.”
The former UFC middleweight champion didn’t like the stoppage by referee Mark Goddard. Adesanya says that he was moving around in the fifth round to survive combinations thrown by Pereira.
“I don’t blame him. Mark [Goddard’s] a good referee…but you refereed the [Kelvin] Gastelum fight. You’ve seen where I can go to. You should have that kind of faith in me and also you gave Kelvin Gastelum every chance after he got dropped the most in any title fight in the UFC’s history. I didn’t get dropped. Yeah, I wobbled but I wobbled because of my leg.”
For the first time since 2019, Adesanya is not a UFC champion. Despite the setback, he’s confident that he will square off against his rival many more times even if he isn’t the champion.