While Israel Adesanya has been working on his MMA career as far back as 2012 – his nemesis Alex Pereira was content to be a kickboxing world champion.
Adesanya got into UFC in 2018, he faced Kelvin Gastelum for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship on 13 April 2019. But before he got his title shot, he had to get through one of the greatest of all time – Anderson Silva.
Silva was already aging out at the time and had declined from his peak substantially. Silva had a single win between 2012 and his retirement from MMA in 2020 – in 2017 against Derek Brunson. Just after that, UFC booked him to face Adesanya.
Silva was clearly eager to get a win streak going and had enlisted the help of a fellow Brazilian to help with that goal – Alex Pereira.
Regardless of Pereira in his corner, Adesanya outpointed Silva and won via unanimous decision 29-28 and 30-27, 30-27.
Silva was 43 at the time.
According to Pereira himself, he was already starting to target Adesanya and was watching his every move.
“I’m going to tell you something here and you see if it makes sense. Okay. ”
“This is not recent. It’s been about a year since. ”
“I’ve signed with the UFC. ”
“A couple of years before I got here. ”
“I was already looking forward. To be a part of this organization. ”
“So, it’s been about 3 years that I …”
“I don’t want to say I was studying him. Specifically, but I’ve been watching. ”
“For three years, I’ve been watching him his behavior. ”
“The way he fights his movement. ”
“And for him fighting me, now is something new. But it’s not news to me. I’ve been waiting for 3 years. ”
“I knew I was going to fight him again. He didn’t know I was going to fight him, but I knew.”
And all of it lead to that singular moment at UFC 281 in which Pereira pulled off a surprising come back and dethroned long time champion Israel Adesanya in a memorable fashion. Regardless of the fact that the two are likely to rematch, it’s hard to not be amused by the juxtaposition of Adesanya and his arch-rival, Pereira.