Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya (24-2-0) faced the biggest challenge of his UFC career on Saturday at UFC 287 in Miami, Florida. Alex Pereira (7-2-0), entering the fight as the reigning UFC Middleweight Champion, defeated Adesanya via TKO in November of 2022 to hand him his first loss in the UFC’s middleweight division and win the belt. Pereira entered Saturday’s rematch undefeated against Adesanya, having twice fought Adesanya, one of the UFC’s most-prized fighters, in kickboxing previous to their November bout. With Adesanya recapturing the middleweight belt, he’s overcome arguably his biggest foe to date.
“You get knocked down seven times, you get back up eight,” Adesanya said in his post-fight press conference.
“I gave him a fast track to the belt,” he said, dismissing the possibility of a trilogy fight. “I got the immediate rematch because of what I’ve done in this game… I did the hard yards and I earned my (expletive) rematch, now he has to do the hard yards if he wants to do that.”
UFC President Dana White added doubt to the possibility of a trilogy fight in his press conference, saying that he believes Pereira will make the move to the 205-pound light heavyweight division. If that is true for Pereira’s future, Adesanya could face a new challenger to defend his recaptured title. Among the top names for a potential fall 2023 championship bout is South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis, who Adesanya seemed to spark a public feud with in fiery post-fight comments.
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