Israel Adesanya will face Alex Pereira in April as he looks to re-claim the middleweight title. UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier recently speculated that the former champion may have rushed to accept the title fight due to his rival having other options.
Speaking on his podcast DC & RC, the former double champion discussed how Pereira might've been tempted to pursue fights against light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill and top-ranked middleweight Robert Whittaker instead of a rematch with Adesanya:
"You don't hear Israel talking about whether or not he's going to fight Alex, when he's going to fight - and all of a sudden Jamahal Hill becomes the champion and then Jamahal Hill says, 'h**l, I'll let Alex Pereira come up to 205 and I'll fight him right now'."
"Then Alex Pereira says, 'Izzy, I won't mess with his plans, if he wants to fight, I'll give it to him. If not, I'll move on to Robert Whittaker.' So, for me, it feels a little bit like maybe Izzy wasn't going to fight him now, but when his name started to ring bells in so many different areas, he goes, maybe it's now or maybe never because as you know many people feel like Alex is a vulnerable champion [due to his lack of wrestling]."
Catch Daniel Cormier's comments below (4:25):
Alex Pereira is now 3-0 against Israel Adesanya across all combat sports, including two knockouts. Considering Adesanya's accomplishments prior to his loss to Pereira last year, the Nigerian-born Kiwi deserves an immediate rematch.
They are slated to square off in the main event of UFC 287 on April 8th.
John McCarthy claims prior losses to Alex Pereira could be in the back of Israel Adesanya's mind
Alex Pereira has emerged as the boogeyman of Israel Adesanya's professional career. The Brazilian has beaten 'The Last Stylebender' twice in kickboxing and once in MMA already. Additionally, Pereira remains the only man to have stopped Adesanya, with his only other loss in MMA coming via decision.
Former MMA referee John McCarthy recently speculated that the losses could factor into their upcoming title bout at UFC 287. Speaking on his podcast, WEIGHING IN, McCarthy said:
"A guy beats you. Now, the first one in kickboxing, you look and you go, 'I don't think I lost that.' Okay, but then he goes and he starches you, so you got that loss and there's nothing you can say, hey it happens. Then, you have an MMA fight and you're doing well, and he puts you out again. Tell me it's not in the back of your mind."
Catch John McCarthy's comments below (7:08):
Interestingly, despite never having beaten Alex Pereira in a professional setting, Israel Adesanya opened as the betting favorite. He opened as a -145 favorite while 'Poatan' opened as a +125 underdog.