UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya sees his next title defence at UFC 281 against his greatest rival Alex Pereira as a fight he must win.
Adesanya has quite the history with Pereira, with the Brazilian beating him twice in the kickboxing ring. Pereira would also be the first and only man to knock Adesanya out when they met for a rematch in 2017. Years later, Pereira looks for another repeat but this time inside the Octagon.
‘The Last Stylebender’ knows he has to do everything it takes to avenge those losses to Pereira and redeem himself once and for all. Adesanya has had no shortage of high-stake fights in his title run but he holds this one higher than the other fights.
“I was watching Claressa Shields and Floyd Mayweather talk on FaceTime when he fought Pacquiao. He said he got up from the seat for every round. He always just thought like, ‘Forget every other fight. If there’s ever a fight I have to win, it’s this one,’” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel.
“I feel that,” Adesanya added. “That’s me right now. If there’s ever a fight, I have to win, it’s this one. That’s why everything is different this camp. There’s no excuses. If there’s ever a fight I have to win, it’s this one.”
In the build-up to this fight which is arguably the biggest fight in his career, Adesanya has looked more focused and motivated than ever. In addition to his latest comments, the current champ even said ‘f*ck the belt’ he’s only focused on beating Alex Pereira on November 12 at the Madison Square Garden.