Israel Adesanya will always respect ‘special fighter’ Alex Pereira

Rivalry aside, Israel Adesanya praised Alex Pereira for helping him grow as a fighter.

Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) finally got one back on Pereira after losing to him three times – twice in kickboxing, and once in MMA in their middleweight title fight at UFC 281. In their most recent meeting at UFC 287 in April 2023, Adesanya knocked out Pereira to reclaim his middleweight title.

“The Stylebender” said his issue is more with Pereira’s (10-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) fans, than “Poatan” himself.

“He’s a special fighter,” Adesanya told Demetrious Johnson. “He’s a special human being. What he’s done in this game, in fighting, and for his life as well, I’ll always respect him. I’m grateful for those moments because, for me, it taught me so much about myself and where I can go.”

Adesanya doesn’t see a need to fight the now UFC light heavyweight champion Pereira again. He explains that if he were to beat him again, he still won’t get credit.

“People, they’re so f*cking stupid,” Adesanya said. “First fight in China, I thought I won. These casuals don’t. These plebs don’t. I thought I won. Even he thought I won until he got his hand raised. Second fight, I’m beating his ass and he gets me. Again in New York (at UFC 281), I’m beating him. Rocked him, took him down, held him down, beat him, and he gets me. … I just knew that I can beat this guy. It wasn’t about proving it to anyone else. It was about myself. I know I can beat this guy.

“So that last Miami one, I was in a different place. I had to tap into some darkness for that camp. People who knew me, I was different. Ain’t no way this motherf*cker is beating me four times. It’s about the story. So, now I’ve beat him once. How ironic. I beat him once, but then watch this. If I fight him again and knock him out, what are they going to say, ‘It’s 3-2. It’s now best out of seven.’ I’m 34, man. I’ve only got a certain amount of fights left. Why am I going to fight the same guy however many times? I just want to prove to myself.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie