Despite losing all three bouts against Alex Pereira in kickboxing and MMA, Israel Adesanya is considered to be the betting favorite for their upcoming match at UFC 287.
Many fans believe that Adesanya should have won their first bout and was ahead in the following two, but Pereira’s finishing power gave him the win.
Even UFC athletes are divided on how the Miami contest will play out. Jon Jones and Marvin Vettori are among those who believe that Pereira will end up defeating Adesanya once again.
Jones stated: “I believe Pereira’s going to win again. There’s some athletes that just have other athlete’s number. He works hard and I’m rooting for him. I believe he’s going to do it again.”
Middleweight competitor Vettori also said: “He’ll beat Izzy again. It’s just, I don’t know, I feel like he had a mission on beating him.”
On the other hand, Robert Whittaker feels that Adesanya’s mentality following his recent defeat will be crucial in determining the outcome of the match.
He said: “It all depends on how Adesanya has taken the last loss really, because losing again in MMA after Pereira has come in and done his whole thing and then losing in that fashion, might play on his mind.”
“Or it could swing entirely the other way and free him up completely, the worst has already happened, took a loss, now he’s going in as the challenger, hungry. We might see a much more free and relaxed Adesanya.”
Additionally, Dricus du Plessis thinks Pereira will serve as the primary motivator for Adesanya, rather than the belt. He also believes that Adesanya’s hunger to prove himself might give him the edge.
Dricus du Plessis told James Lynch: “I think Izzy needs this fight, not because of the title but his personal self,’ he told James Lynch. ‘He fought the guy three times. I think he’ll be really smart. I think Izzy gets it done by a split decision.”
“I think Alex Pereira has achieved in his mind, this is all just speculation, ‘I’ve come into this sport and beaten Izzy for a third time’, he’s proven what he needed to prove and I don’t know if he has that hunger. For Izzy this is something that means more to him than ever being UFC champion. At the end of his title reign it was almost as though he was defending it, he wasn’t fighting to win so I think it is a good mentality change for him.”
Despite his past losses to Pereira, a number of UFC competitors still think Adesanya will be the one to win. Light-heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill believes that Adesanya will come in more prepared this time and has the technical advantage to win.
Hill stated: “I think Izzy is a bit more calculated and comes in more prepared this time. It’s crazy because Alex has now beaten him three times but I think I take Izzy. He was winning that last fight convincingly and he might understand he needs to be a little bit more on point. I don’t think Pereira is four times out of four better than Izzy.”
Hill also said: “I still feel like MMA is fairly new to Pereira. If Izzy wanted to, he could use the wrestling to mix it up a little bit. Pereira has a great check left hook that he finishes everybody with but I feel like Adesanya’s feints can draw that out and he can counter.”
However, many competitors are still backing Pereira to overpower Adesanya again. Some believe that his physicality and finishing power could be the key to his success against Adesanya.
Sodiq Yusuff supported Pereira and said: “Pereira, whatever he has in his hand, that s*** is insane! He touches people and they just die. I understand he looks physically imposing but the punches themselves don’t look like he’s putting everything into them to knock you out.”
Additionally, Julian Marquez stated: “I think Pereira just has Adesanya’s number, I think Israel wastes a lot of energy with a lot of movement. But Pereira is like a heavyweight down at middleweight somehow and his power doesn’t depreciate from round one to round five.”
However, Chael Sonnen found it difficult to express his opinion. He decided to support Adesanya, but he acknowledged that the more facts he learns about Pereira the more doubtful he becomes.
Sonnen said in a video on his YouTube channel: “I’m picking Adesanya and I don’t have the foggiest idea why. The more information I get on Pereira, who is a little bit of a mystery, but the more I get, the better it is for Pereira. I didn’t realize he is such a large man.”