Adesanya: Not too soon to reignite Pereira rivalry after UFC 276
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will be short on fresh challengers if he defends his belt against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 on July 2. As a result, Adesanya is open to taking on an opponent he knows well.
Adesanya said Tuesday he would welcome the UFC fast-tracking Alex Pereira, his former kickboxing rival who owns two wins over him, into a title shot if the Brazilian beats Sean Strickland on the same night.
"I look forward to either one of those fights," Adesanya said Tuesday, according to MMA Junkie's Farah Hannoun. "I don't like this narrative of like, 'Oh, it's too quick for Pereira.' But look, Jiri (Prochazka) just fought for the belt and won the belt in his third fight in the UFC. I think Anderson (Silva) did it in his second fight. So, that's fine. He's new to MMA. I've been in this game for a long time."
Pereira beat Adesanya via unanimous decision in April 2016 before handing the UFC champion his first knockout loss in their rematch the following year.
But Adesanya is confident things would go differently inside the Octagon.
"This TikTok generation has 15-second memory, so they forget," Adesanya said. "All they see is the knockout, but they didn't watch the first fight or even watch the second fight before the finish.
"This is not kickboxing, this is mixed martial arts, and these ain't big pillow gloves. These are four-ounce deadly weapons, and I can't wait to drive that through his face after I go through Jared Cannonier."
Pereira gained a TKO win over Andreas Michailidis in his UFC debut last November. He then took a unanimous decision victory against Bruno Silva in March to earn a fight with Strickland, who's the No. 4 middleweight after winning six in a row.