Alex Pereira is 3-0 in his young UFC career. To this point, he’s been with the promotion for just over a year, and has one win over a ranked opponent along the way. Despite these facts, Pereira will be the next man to face UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya on Saturday. Eugene Bareman, the coach of the man who holds the UFC’s 185-pound crown, has some strong feelings about Pereira’s rush to title contender status.
“There’s no way he gets a title shot if there wasn’t history there; it’s ridiculous,” Bareman said on The MMA Hour. “It’s just ridiculous that someone would get a title shot [so quickly]. There’s history with Israel, and the story and the UFC, hate it or love it, Dana has to promote fights. That’s one thing they do really well. They picked up this history, picked up this would be a great fight that’s going to bring a lot of eyes, and strategically push Alex so he could fight for the title.
“We’ll have to see on Saturday if he’s being rushed too early, and if they should’ve been more patient.”
That history—of the Brazilian’s two wins over the ‘Last Stylebender’ in kickboxing contests—looms large in the pre-fight promotion of the matchup between the two middleweights. In April 2016, Pereira defeated Adesanya via decision. In their March 2017 rematch, Pereira scored a third-round knockout win over the now-UFC champ.
Adesanya made the full-time move to MMA following his loss to Pereira. He had two bouts outside the UFC in 2017 before making the jump to the world’s largest fight promotion. Since then, he has compiled a 12-1 record in the Octagon, including five title defenses.
Pereira left kickboxing behind in September 2021, a couple of months before his UFC debut. Overall, Pereira is 6-1 in MMA competition. He is coming off a July knockout win over Sean Strickland, who fought to Pereira’s strengths and paid the price.
Bareman acknowledged the danger of facing a striker like Pereira. Still, the City Kickboxing coach feels he and his team will have Adesanya well prepared to move the record between these two men to 1-2 this coming Saturday night.
“I see Israel doing what he does best, and that’s accumulating damage, nice clean fight, stays out of danger, and just accumulates damage,” said Bareman.” Whether he gets a stoppage [or not], I always envision it going the distance, Israel having a clean fight, Israel hitting and not getting hit, then getting back to his friends and family after that to celebrate and all the rest of it.”
UFC 281 takes place on Saturday, November 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The main card streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.
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