The Last Stylebender’s Challenge: Israel Adesanya Welcomes Pereira Trilogy, but with a Catch


The Last Stylebender’s Challenge: Israel Adesanya Welcomes Pereira Trilogy, but with a catch

Israel Adesanya, the reigning middleweight champion, has expressed his willingness to engage in a trilogy fight with Alex Pereira, but only under one condition – it must be for the light heavyweight championship. Adesanya recently defeated Pereira in their second UFC clash at UFC 287, avenging his loss to the Brazilian fighter at UFC 281 just five months prior.

Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya
Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya at UFC 282 (The Sun)

The rivalry between Adesanya and Pereira extends beyond the UFC octagon, as the two fighters previously faced off twice during their tenures in Glory Kickboxing, with Pereira emerging victorious on both occasions. Holding a three-to-one advantage over Adesanya across two combat sports, Pereira’s dominance in their encounters has fueled speculation of a trilogy fight in the UFC.

However, Pereira’s immediate focus lies on his upcoming light heavyweight debut against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291. With a victory over Blachowicz, Pereira aims to make a successful transition to the 205-pound division and potentially earn a shot at the light heavyweight title.

Adesanya, who has ventured into the light heavyweight division once before, has made it clear that he would only be interested in a trilogy fight with Pereira if it is for the light heavyweight championship. In a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Adesanya stated, “If he wins the belt at 205, I’ll do it again. But if not, I think he’s done with it, I’m done with it. Everybody else wants to see it, but we’re done with it, that’s life.”

When asked for his prediction regarding Pereira’s upcoming fight against Blachowicz, Adesanya expressed confidence in Pereira’s striking ability. “I think [Alex] might knock [Jan] out,” Adesanya said. “I feel like if Jan doesn’t take him down, [Alex] is gonna knock him out.”

While a trilogy fight with Pereira remains uncertain, Adesanya’s immediate focus will likely be on his next middleweight title defense against the winner of the Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis bout at UFC 290. Having already defeated most of the top middleweight contenders, except for Du Plessis, Adesanya might consider another foray into the light heavyweight division if Pereira finds success at 205 pounds, similar to his achievements at 185 pounds.

Although talks of an Adesanya vs. Pereira trilogy sparked immediately after their second fight, the matchup appears to be on hold indefinitely as Pereira strives to climb the ranks and conquer the light heavyweight division. Fans will eagerly await the outcomes of both Pereira’s bout with Blachowicz and Adesanya’s next middleweight title defense, anticipating the possibility of a future clash between these two formidable fighters.

Alexander Volkanovski outlines the narrative on how the UFC is working on the trilogy bout between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira

Israel Adesanya’s remarkable performance against Alex Pereira at UFC 287 on April 8 continues to leave UFC fans in awe. Despite a momentary setback in the second round where Pereira appeared to have Adesanya hurt, the middleweight champion made an astonishing comeback, securing victory through a knockout. The win was so impressive that even UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier believes it to be the knockout of the year thus far.

Adesanya’s triumph over Pereira, combined with his controversial taunting of Pereira’s child after the fight, left spectators eager to witness a rematch between the two fighters. However, Pereira surprised everyone by announcing his decision to move up to the light heavyweight division. He is now set to challenge Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291, with the possibility of the winner earning a shot at the light heavyweight title.

Meanwhile, the UFC has made significant moves in the middleweight division. Robert Whittaker is scheduled to face Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 290 on July 8, and the victor of that bout will be granted the opportunity to contend for the middleweight title. However, it appears that Adesanya may also be competing at UFC 293 on September 10. It remains uncertain whether Whittaker or Du Plessis would be available for a quick turnaround to face Adesanya in that event.

While fans will have to wait for a potential trilogy fight between Adesanya and Pereira, UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski believes that the UFC has a strategic plan in place to arrange the bout in the future. During an interview with the MMA Fan Podcast with Stu and Blake, Volkanovski expressed his belief that a third encounter between his friend Adesanya and Pereira could occur, potentially in the light heavyweight division if Pereira becomes the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion:

“…I think it will happen. I think it’s just not something that’s going to happen right away. Obviously, three fights back to back isn’t always good. Like we’ve seen it before, but you don’t really want them like that, so for them to agree, if he(Pereira) wants to go up, say, win the light heavyweight title, and then they fight for like champ-champ. Like, obviously the fight could be massive. Whether that’s what the UFC is planning on doing, I don’t know. I do think that would be pretty clever.”

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