Alex Pereira is expected to face Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight gold after stopping Sean Strickland in brutal fashion at UFC 276 earlier this month in Las Vegas, and he had a lot to say about “The Last Stylebender’s” recent performances inside the octagon on that same night.
Victorious in a decision against Jared Cannonier in the main event, Adesanya is now 3-0 with a trio of decisions since the only defeat of his MMA career, an attempt to claim the light heavyweight belt against Jan Blachowicz in MMA. Adesanya said he is “happy with the performance” over Cannonier despite public criticism, but “Poatan” said he “definitely” shouldn’t be.
“I was there [cageside] and saw the fight, and I say it didn’t impress me,” Pereira said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “It didn’t excite me nor the fans. There’s video of lines of people leaving the arena after the fourth round. People pay expensive tickets and they want to stay until the last minute to see who’s the champion and see him getting his hands raised. For people to act like that it’s because it wasn’t exciting.”
Adesanya, too, said he wasn’t impressed by Pereira’s first-round victory because of who he beat. The Brazilian middleweight, who is just 6-1 as a mixed martial artist but holds two kickboxing victories over the Nigerian star, doesn’t buy it.
“Of course, he’d never give me props, but what he thinks or doesn’t think doesn’t change a thing to me,” Pereira said. “You have to ask him if he was impressed when I knocked him out. Was he not impressed? If he wasn’t, he’s sick. If he was impressed in his own fight [at UFC 276], that’s good enough to me.”
Asked who’s to blame for the 25-minute clash to go on like that, “Poatan” said Adesanya is really giving his all inside the octagon, but it just isn’t enough to stop the likes of Marvin Vettori and Jared Cannonier, his most recent challengers.
“I’ll tell you this, I think he’s giving his all in his fights but sometimes his all isn’t just to attack, it’s about the defense, because that’s the toughest part,” Pereira said. “What he does is the toughest part, to defend yourself. He’s a complete guy. You see, grapplers who fought him didn’t do well because he’s different, he’s good.
“But what he’s doing, do you think — just like my fight, I had the opportunity to KO [Strickland], but said [before the fight] I wanted to fight three rounds. He went down, the referee didn’t stop it, am I going to let him get back up? Of course not. I’ll give my all there, and that’s what he’s doing, that’s what he’s been able to do.
“You think he wouldn’t KO the guy if he could? ‘Oh, I’m going to make it look like an easy fight.’ You think he didn’t want [to KO him]? Of course he did, but the other guy didn’t let him do it. He’s giving his best in there. There’s no way, you can’t control it. What he’s doing there is his best. Who doesn’t want [a KO]? If you can have the power to retain the title by submission or knockout, who wouldn’t want that?”
Pereira said he’s waiting for the call to set the date and location for his bout with Adesanya and would be open to re-entering the octagon in two months’ time, but doubts the champion would return so soon to face someone like him. The Brazilian, however, expects to get his shot before the end of the year.
“Poatan” doesn’t believe the highly anticipated clash would do poorly in terms of pay-per-view sales after the champion’s recent lackluster performances because UFC fans will always “give [fighters] another chance” and eventually tune in. Also, he’s sure there’s no way this trilogy isn’t exciting.
“People are watching [my UFC fights] and they know it’s going to be a good fight,” he said. “People saw my fights with him and how it went. Even the first one, I didn’t win by knockout, it was by points, but it was a fight that excited everybody. It’s going to be a great fight, man.”