That’s not an exaggeration, either. Adesanya (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) called Pereira (4-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) would finish Andreas Michailidis with a knee in their middleweight matchup this past Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Normally Adesanya’s thoughts on a debuting fighter in his division wouldn’t be particularly newsworthy. Pereira is a unique case, though, because he holds two kickboxing victories over the UFC’s current 185-pound one, with one being the lone knockout loss of Adesanya’s combat sports career.
In a new UFC 268 reaction video on Adesanya’s personal YouTube channel, he shared footage of himself watching the fight live, where Pereira stuffed takedown attempted for the first round before landing a flying knee knockout at the 0:18 mark of Round 2.
“It’s pretty much like me and (Derek) Brunson – he’s trying to find a way (to take him down) cause he’s scared of the striking,” Adesanya said. “Cause you know he’s going to shoot, well-timed knee just straight up. Bang. There it is. I thought he was going to do it when he shot in, but I didn’t think he was going to fly at him.”
Pereira, 34, was repeatedly asked about getting a fight against Adesanya, 32, in the UFC prior to making his debut. He kept humble and said his lone goal is to win the title. If he happens to cross paths with “The Last Stylebender” as a consequence of chasing that dream, he would be happy to face his former foe again.
It remains to be seen how UFC matchmakers opt to handle Pereira going forward. Adesanya agreed with one of his friends in the video that the likes of Brunson and Marvin Vettori would pose stylistic issues to Pereira, who still has just five MMA fights despite a wealth of kickboxing experience that includes a GLORY title.
The champion is seemingly hoping for Pereira to find success, though. Adesanya is coming off a title defense against Vettori at UFC 263 in June, and is expected to rematch Robert Whittaker in February, though it’s not official.
Pereira represents fresh blood, and given his history with Adesanya, he’d create a compelling storyline as a challenger. Adesanya rubbed his fingers in a money-making motion as Pereira conducted his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, and he made it clear it’s something he wants.
“We talked about this like two days ago,” Adesanya said. “We need something new. Especially after you lap the division again. … Good job Pereira, that was nice. One thing I notice is everyone always holds on to that win he has over me like it’s the be-all-end-all. I hope he does well. I hope he does well through the ranks. In the next four fights, I hope to see him. They’ll show you the knockout, but they won’t show you what happened before the finish. I hurt him, but I only throw (hands) because I was infiltrated by other people’s thoughts. But that was when I was younger. Not anymore. It’s different now. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”