Ex-UFC champ Israel Adesanya can do what he wants, but…
Following his upset UFC middleweight title loss to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in Australia, Israel Adesanya announced a “hiatus” from competing.
“Before this fight I was very like, ‘I know I’m on the back end of my career, so I want to do as many as I can because I know when I’m done with this I’m going to miss it,’” said Adesanya. “I’m trying to do as much as I can. But then after this fight, and again, 14 months and four fights, it’s not just the fights, it’s the training and everything.
“I had injuries going into the Pereira fight, you’ve seen that. I don’t make any excuses. Strickland got me on the night because he was the better fighter on the night. He did his work well. He had a good team behind him. I never made excuses. I gave him props.
“Now I’m going to take time to look after myself, and I’m not going to fight for a long time. I’m definitely not going to retire because I know me — I’m not leaving like that,” continued Adesanya. “I know me. But if I did, I’m fine. I don’t need to prove anything else. But I know what I can do and I know what I can change in my lifestyle to make my body adapt to where I need to be. I’m going to heal myself up. You won’t see me fight for a long time.”
Long-time UFC and kickboxing rival Alex Pereira isn’t buying it
One UFC competitor can claim to know Israel Adesanya as well as anyone can know an opponent. Former UFC and Glory kickboxing champ Alex Pereira has faced Adesanya twice in the kickboxing ring and twice more in the UFC Octagon.
Pereira is 2-0 against Israel Adesanya in kickboxing, with one win by decision and the other by KO. In MMA, the two have split their bouts with Pereira finishing Adesanya and taking his title at UFC 281 in 2022. Adesanya avenged that loss this past April with a second-round KO against Pereira at UFC 287.
So when Alex Pereira talks about Israel Adesanya, it’s coming from a place of understanding that only combat sports rivals can reach.
“It’s hard to say anything about it because it’s hard to understand Adesanya on that position,” said Pereira in an interview with CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri. “He’s saying that he’s going to take all this time off, but it’s not only about money. The guy already made his money. It’s not about that. He likes to fight. So maybe he’s just confused so he has to hold on and see what’s next. “I think he comes back earlier than that and faster than everybody believes.”
Only time and Israel Adesanya will tell us what’s next for the Stylebender and his combat sports career. In the meantime, Pereira has moved on, competing in the UFC’s light heavyweight division where he’s already 1-0 and set to fight Jiri Prochazka for the vacant 205 pound title this Saturday at UFC 295 in New York.
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