UFC 295 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden was originally going to be headlined by Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title. That got ruined when Jones tore a pec muscle and needed surgery.
One man who might have a pretty good idea what Pereira brings to the table. That man is Israel Adesanya who’s faced Pereira twice in the kickboxing ring (losing both times) and twice in the UFC Octagon (going 1-1).
Israel Adesanya picking Jiri Prochazka to regain belt at UFC 295
Given the amount of time they’ve spent fighting one another, and how often Izzy has lost, fans might expect him to pick Pereira. But fans might be surprised.
In a recent video for his YouTube channel, however, the former two-time middleweight champion gave his thoughts on the UFC 295 main event, and why he believes Jiri Prochazka is going to regain heavyweight gold.
“I’ll say Pereira is a special human being – not just a fighter, a special human being,” Adesanya explained (transcript via MMA Junkie). “I’ll say that because I’ve been in there with him many times – a special human being, and he’s got a special ability when it comes to putting people to sleep.
“He can do it to anyone. His story is very impressive, what he’s done in kickboxing, coming to the UFC and hunting me down, getting hunted and then going up to 205 now and looking to claim a second belt.”
“It’s a hard fight for both men. But again, it’s a hard fight for Jiri because of that time bomb,” Adesanya said. “You can diffuse the bomb – that’s the thing. You have to find out how to diffuse the bomb. It’s exciting, but regardless, I’m going with Jiri Prochazka.”
Israel Adesanya wants thanks for derailing Pereira
Alex Pereira enjoyed an amazingly fast rise to UFC middleweight gold. As of mid-2020 he was primarily a kickboxer who’d only fought thrice as a professional mixed martial artist (going 2-1) and hadn’t done that since 2016.
But after Adesanya essentially cleared out the division with seven straight winning MW title fights between 2019 and 2022, fans started talking about Pereira, the man who had beaten the UFC middleweight king twice in kickboxing.
Pereira fought one MMA tune up fight in 2020 and a year later was fighting in the UFC where all he needed was three straight wins to earn a shot at the Stylebender. Pereira made the most of that opportunity, KO’ing Adesanya at UFC 281.
But then he lost the rematch at UFC 287 and elected to move up to light heavyweight rather than pursue an MMA rubber match with his rival.
While Pereira’s move seems more to be about the difficulty of cutting weight all the way down to 185 lbs for the 6′ 4″ giant, Adesanya sounds like he feels the Brazilian would still be wreaking havoc on the middleweight division if he hadn’t lost that 4th bout against the ‘Last Stylebender’.
“These middleweights can get on their ******* knees and thank me ’cause I got this man out of there. If not, you would have to deal with him over and over and over again, all of you,” Adesanya added in the same YouTube video (transcript via MMA Fighting) “I doubt any of you would want to ******* fight this guy. I did four times but I got it done just with one.”
Daniel Cormier concerned about Jiri’s ring rust
Not everyone sounds so bullish on Prochazka’s chances.
On a recent episode of his DC & RC show, former two-division champion Daniel Cormier outlined what he believes will be a major x-factor going against ‘Denisa’ in the Octagon.
“He has not been here long, so for him to have been UFC champion in such a short period of time tells you how special of a talent he is,” said Cormier during an episode of DC & RC. “But with him winning as he did, it was a lot of frequency that he was in the Octagon. I believe that the consistency helped him to where he was able to get that UFC championship belt. I think that this layoff is going to hurt him.
“But for Jiri, it’s got to feel like playing with the house’s money because he was supposed to be gone for another four months,” continued Cormier. “Eighteen months, he got hurt last year. This guy is back in 15 months. They were saying 18 months until he was able to do anything. It was going to be a long injury.
“So now he’s back fighting for the belt, but I do believe that this ring rust is going to play a factor, especially early. Alex Pereira has been very active.”
UFC 295 takes place tonight, November 11, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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