Israel Adesanya will look to defend his middleweight belt for the sixth time at UFC 281 against Alex Pereira, a familiar opponent from his kickboxing days. The No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter had a special request for UFC president Dana White before his next fight.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, FREESTYLE BENDERAdesanya shared that he was focused ahead of his fight with ‘Poatan’:
“I’m just focusing on this guy. Those last three guys, I knew I was going to beat them [Vettori, Whittaker, Cannonier]. This guy [Pereira], I know I can beat it, but it’s because of the reality in this area, in this timeline. He’s beaten me in the past so there’s no false sense of arrogance and I have to humble myself in a sense of like, ‘No, he can beat me, but I know I can beat him.’ That last fight we had, I was touching it, I shook it.”
Adesanya added a request:
“Dana, bring Steve Mazzagatti back. Bring Steve Mazzagatti back to referee my fight cause I wanna hear ‘fold back’ as I punch him in the face like 50 times. I wanna hear ‘Fight, you gotta move Alex, you gotta move, fight back, now hang on to him. I want to hear this 50 times before they tear me away from him.”
Steve Mazzagatti was known for letting the fights continue far past the point where they should have been stopped. Adesanya’s desire to have him as an official makes his encounter with Pereira feel much more personal than any of his previous fights.
Watch Israel Adesanya’s comments below (from 3:25 p.m.):
Israel Adesanya shares his vision for UFC 281
Israel Adesanya has lost two fights to Alex Pereira in kickboxing, including the only knockout loss of his career. As the two fighters square off in mixed martial arts for the first time, the middleweight champion has shared his plans for the match.
Talk to TMZ SportsAdesanya said:
“I want to be the first person he sees when he wakes up. I want to make sure I’m in his line of sight so that when he wakes up he looks at me and then looks at the referee, but I want to be the first person he sees when he wakes up. That’s how I see this fight going.”
Adesanya will enter the UFC middleweight title fight looking to avenge his two kickboxing losses, while Pereira will appear to be the first mixed martial arts middleweight to defeat Adesanya.
Watch Israel Adesanya’s comments below (from 5:05):