Adesanya vs Pereria 3 was recently announced for UFC 281 at Maddison Square Garden in New York, finalising one of the most highly anticipated match-ups in recent memory. Isreal Adesanya is unblemished in MMA, and bar his sole light-heavyweight outing against Jan Blachowicz, has had a pretty convincing run. Alex Pereria was brought into the UFC, not for his MMA record, but his kickboxing prowess. The icing on the cake was his two victories over the aforementioned Adesanya.
In the first of the two bouts, even though Pereria got the decision, it was a close fight that caused much debate. While “Poatan” did look strong and fearsome in the beginning, as the bout went on, it seemed Adesanya, the fresher of the two, was pulling away. The current middleweight king looked to have Pereria tired and was making him miss, as well as countering viciously.
The fight was so close that a rematch was booked for Glory of Heroes 7, in China. The second fight started with a very authoritative style from Pereria, blasting in power kicks and applying pressure early. Adesanya though gained his footing and started to look comfortable, working the body and turning Pereria onto the back foot. As time progressed, “Stylebender” looked more and more self-assured, reading Pereria with more ease than in the first fight. The third round even started with a flying knee from Adesanya, and all looked well until it didn’t. Pereria through a step-in right hook, with a left hook following behind that, took Adesanya out. “Stylebender” had been laid unconscious, making it 2-0 to the Brazilian, and any real reason for a rematch for a third time seemed redundant, until now.
But what is it that makes the third fight different?
Other than of course the MMA ruleset, here are some of the key differences.
A lot of defence in kickboxing is based around the larger glove size. 10oz gloves are the standard wear of anyone fighting higher than lightweight, while the UFC gloves of the fingerless variety are a mere 4oz. Parrying shots, or absorbing them with the gloves becomes a lot more difficult in the octagon. It adjusts the distance at which striking exchanges take place also, something in which Adesanya is obviously adept and experienced.
Pereria has a 63.3% knockout rate over the duration of his kickboxing career. Since dawning the famous 4oz gloves, He has brought that up to a remarkable 83.3%, putting him at fifth all-time as far as knockout ratios go. Isreal Adesanya on the other hand was much more known for his impressive defence and counter-striking in his kickboxing days, holding just a 38.6% finish rate in his 75 wins. In MMA it is a much more notable 65%, showing just how big a difference these smaller gloves make.
Fans of Glory, or indeed any of the kickboxing promotions will know that it is much different to watch than a UFC bout. Frenzied, sometimes hard to keep up with blitzes and combinations are aplenty. Stances are much more offence oriented, with much more high kicks, low kicks and everything spinning and stinging in between.
Due to any takedown worries, and with sweeps being illegal, or at least not scored in most promotions, and therefore a kick being caught isn’t a worry. in fact, you can see Adesanya throwing a roundhouse and then immediately avoiding a counter high-kick, Matrix-style with his head passed his shoulders. In MMA, such tomfoolery would not fly. sloppy or unnecessary kicks are often punished, with the accused often having to expend energy they would rather not have in a grappling exchange, presented with lazy attacks.
This will also be “Poatan’s” first five-round MMA bout, a stage Adesanya is now most comfortable on. If He can pull Pereria into the fourth and fifth rounds, he very well may get to test how badly Pereria wants it. It has also been rumoured that Pereria isn’t a bad grappler himself, having trained with the likes of Glover Texeria in BJJ. could he try to use some of his obvious physical strength to lean on Adesanya for a while and take away that cobra-like movement that has been a foil for so many?
There are so many factors that we must look at to paint a clear picture of where each man might be mentally, so if you will, indulge me a moment.
After the first fight, both men were in a great spot. Adesanya felt he was the rightful winner, and it isn’t easy to see why. Pereria on the other hand was the victor and had no reason to think the rematch would go any differently. Following the rematch, everything changed. To the record-checking fans, Alex Pereria had Isreal Adesanya’s number and beat him so bad he left kickboxing. That’s hard to take, even if you are the middleweight champion of the UFC. The idea of Pereria chasing “Izzy” across into MMA is equal parts terrifying as it is hilarious.
So, advantage “Poatan”, Right?
Well, it’s not that simple. Adesanya is the king of the castle around these parts, being one of the top pound for pound, and Pereria is a 6-1, 35-year-old whose best win is over a man who self-admittedly got into a striking match with a man he had no business striking with in order to pander to his ego. These are the facts. I would imagine that Adesanya is chomping at the bit to get his greatest grief as far as combat sports is concerned, erased. Adesanya has had much more time inside that octagon and knows its intricacies well. As previously stated, he knows he can go five rounds. We don’t know if Pereria can, but you probably wouldn’t feel very safe putting money on it now, would you?
The first round could end up very tense, but telling chapter in the story of these two combatants, come November 12th.
How much does that knockout play into Adesanya’s, or indeed Pereria’s fight plan?
Could Adesanya end up headhunting, trying to emphatically prove he is the single greatest striker in the division and perhaps the UFC, removing any chance of the title being plural, shared with his nemesis, Alex Pereria.
Who do you think leaves New York as champion of UFC 281?
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