UFC light heavyweight contender Alex Pereira feels his long-time rival Israel Adesanya’s planned break from fighting will be short-lived.
Pereira will face former UFC light heavyweight champion Jiří Procházka for the vacant light heavyweight belt this Saturday at UFC 295. He earned the light heavyweight title shot after outpointing Jan Blachowicz in his last fight at UFC 291.
Before his recent light heavyweight success, the beginning of Pereira’s UFC career took place in the middleweight division. This included a middleweight title win over Adesanya at UFC 281, and a vicious knockout of current champ Sean Strickland at UFC 276.
Adesanya suffered one of the biggest upset losses in UFC history when he lost the middleweight belt to Strickland at UFC 293. After the loss, he’s teased a long break from competition with an uncertain timeline for a return.
Pereira, who has faced Adesanya a total of five times across multiple disciplines, feels Adesanya’s thirst for competition will be reignited soon.
Alex Pereira Dismisses Israel Adesanya’s Planned UFC Hiatus
During a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Pereira weighed in on Adesanya’s plans for a long break.
“I don’t think that’s true, he won’t stay [out] that long,” Pereira said. “And that’s not good for him, to not fight for that long. He’ll give other interviews soon and get motivated again. I think he needs a bit more motivation. If he finds something that motivates him, I think he comes back quickly. When he finds that motivation, he comes back sooner than that.”
Pereira then explained why immediately trying to run it back with Strickland wouldn’t be a good idea.
“Adesanya would have to change a few things to do better there,” Pereira said. “If he comes back the same way it will be like if they had continued that fight, another five rounds.
“He needs to make some adjustments — and maybe he can change, but it’s a difficult game for him. He does that game his entire life, and it’s very difficult to change that in one camp.”
Adesanya’s middleweight absence takes place amidst a slew of new contenders at the top of the division. This includes the surging Dricus du Plessis, who will be Strickland’s first title defense at UFC 297 in January.
Khamzat Chimaev and Paulo Costa also sit atop the middleweight title picture. Adesanya might opt for a tune-up fight when he eventually returns, potentially against either Chimaev or Costa.
Adesanya’s comments about a long break have frustrated his fans, but Pereira thinks it’ll be a shorter hiatus than most expect.
All quotes from MMA Fighting