UFC 276: Alex Pereira has GOLDEN chance to earn title shot at Adesanya

Dana White has gifted Alex Pereira a GOLDEN chance to earn a title shot against old rival Israel Adesanya with win at UFC 276… after vicious KO defeat by Brazilian in 2016 kickboxing clash, the champion would relish the opportunity for revenge

  • Israel Adesanya has been almost untouchable as UFC middleweight champion
  • But during his time in kickboxing, deadly striker Alex Pereira beat him twice 
  • Pereira has impressed since joining the UFC and is on same card at UFC 276 
  • Choice is clearly deliberate and emphatic finish could give him title shot

There is a crystal clear narrative the UFC are trying to accelerate with Alex Pereira’s inclusion on the big stage this Saturday. 

The Brazilian, who is best known for beating Israel Adesanya twice during their kickboxing days, will feature below his old adversary on the main card. 

In the showpiece, Adesanya takes on Jared Cannonier but Dana White and Co know the power an emphatic win for Pereira could have on the same night. 

Alex Pereira (left) could face Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight title if they both win


The Kiwi is undefeated at middleweight and has looked supreme as the champion. 

He is expected to swat aside Cannonier as he has done to all comers so Pereira is inevitably going to be pushed as the next logical threat if he continues his upward trajectory. 

It will be no easy task in the biggest challenge of his UFC career so far against Sean Strickland. The American is a durable fighter riding a six-fight win streak and has the wrestling capacity to cause real problems. 

Pereira is a frighteningly gifted striker but still raw in terms of the grappling aspects of MMA. 

The UFC will be fully aware of his shortcomings so are likely to put him in with Adesanya before those become exposed and dampen the hype. 

Every Adesanya win builds up the mystique of Pereira, who ended a 12-fight winning streak of Stylebender with a unanimous decision victory back in 2016. 

The narrative already exists and the UFC are capitalising on it this weekend in Las Vegas 

The rematch was even more emphatic. He knocked Adesanya out cold with a left hook and the Nigerian-born star needed oxygen to help regather his senses. 

Replays of that KO will no doubt be stuck on a loop by the UFC to promote any rematch between the pair. 

Pereira claimed Performance of the Night honours in his UFC debut with a stunning jumping knee finish that caught Adesanya’s attention. 

‘We need something new,’ he said. ‘Especially after you lap the division again. Good job Pereira, that was nice.

‘One thing I notice is everyone always holds on to that win he has over me like it’s the be all end all. I hope he does well. I hope he does well through the ranks. In the next four fights, I hope to see him. 

Adesanya must come through his fight with Jared Cannonier to retain his belt

Pereira (right) won in his UFC debut with a jumping knee against Andreas Michailidis

‘They’ll show you the knockout, but they won’t show you what happened before the finish. I hurt him, but I only throw (hands) because I was infiltrated by other people’s thoughts. 

‘But that was when I was younger. Not any more. It’s different now. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

Pereira then outpointed Bruno Silva in his second outing to tee up the Strickland showdown. 

It represents a significant step up in class for the 34-year-old but his training partner and recently dethroned former light-heavyweight champion Glover Teixiera is in no doubt about his skills. 

‘I couldn’t be more happy as a coach as a training partner that’s been telling people that this guy is no joke,’ he previously said. ‘He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s learning things quick. 

Pereira is one of the best fighters former UFC champion Glover Teixeira (left) has trained with

Sean Strickland (left) will be the toughest challenge of Pereira’s UFC career so far

‘He’ll get things quick. I’m talking about you get a regular guy and whatever, that guy’s gonna learn in six months – [Pereira will] learn in a week. You show him a move and he just does it.

‘That guy is scary you know. He is scary with those four ounce gloves,’ the 42-year-old said. ‘Very strong, very powerful and very dedicated.

Teixeira went on: ‘He’s incredible, man, the way he learned things. This is his first fight in the UFC [UFC 268], probably there’s little nerves, little everything. But no doubt he’s going to be one of the top contenders very soon.

‘This guy is very knowledgeable and he’s one of the greatest fighters that I’ve ever trained with.’

Pereira knows the value of his history with Adesanya and is not shy about talking up another battle with his old adversary. 

Adesanya defeated Robert Whittaker earlier this year in their rematch at UFC 271 

He says the champion is hoping he slips up so there is an easy escape from locking horns in the octagon. 

Pereira told Trocacao Franca: ‘Look, I’ll tell you this — it’s harder for me to get to him than beating him. He knows that. He knows how I beat him. He fought me twice. He won’t admit how difficult I am. 

‘He’s not anxious to fight me. He wants me to slip tomorrow so he can say, “Is this the guy you want me to fight? Are you crazy? Go back to the end of the line.” He’ll run from me.

‘Someone crazy for a fight will say, “I want this guy, I want to prove I’m better than him,”‘ Pereira continued. 

‘He’s fooling his fan base. People should pressure him. The least he could do is say, ‘F***, I’ll show my fans that I’m the best and that’s why they follow me,’ but that’s not what he’s doing. He’s scared s***.’

Pereira believes Adesanya is secretly hoping for him to lose against Sean Strickland 

Adesanya seems to accept that a victory for both men on Saturday night at UFC 276 will lead to them meeting again. 

The 32-year-old said this week: ‘This isn’t kickboxing, this is mixed martial arts.

‘These ain’t big pillow gloves, these are four ounce deadly weapons that I can’t wait to drive through his face after I go through Jared Cannonier.’

The UFC have cleverly teed up a compelling narrative. All that remains is for both men to take care of business in Las Vegas. 

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