UFC 281 vengeance headliner announced for Adesanya
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will have the chance to avenge two of his most painful defeats in combat sports on November 12 at Madison Square Garden.
As announced by the elite MMA promotion on Friday evening, the New Zealander is set to take on bitter Brazilian rival Alex Pereira in the headline bout at UFC 281 in New York.
With Pereira boasting two wins over Adesanya from their kickboxing days, the last of which, in 2017, was delivered by a brutal knockout, 'The Last Stylebender' has the chance to exact revenge on 'Stone Hand' for once and for all which is not lost on him.
Posting on Twitter not long after the UFC's announcement, Adesanya shared a picture of the pair and wrote: "Vengeance is mine says the lord."
"Brooooo, I said the same thing too!! This ends here. Kill or be killed," he added.
Meeting Pereira sees the UFC and its president Dana White honor Adesanya's wishes, which were made public after his latest fight against Jared Cannonier.
After cruising to a unanimous decision win over the American at UFC 276, Adesanya called out Pereira and threatened to have him "frozen like Elsa" in reference to the popular Disney film – a remark which found him ridiculed by another arch nemesis in former light-heavyweight ruler Jon Jones.
Pereira had impressed earlier on the card by flattening Sean Strickland with a brutal first round KO, and joined the throngs of disgruntled fight fans including Hollywood A-lister Chris Pratt that were unmoved by Adesanya's action-shy victory over Cannonier.
Pereira said that it "really" upset him "to see the way he [Adesanya] fought tonight".
"A performance like that is a disrespect to the crowd," Pereira went on through a translator.
"I saw thousands and thousands of people here, I couldn’t even count how many, and it’s sad to see people booing like that during a title fight.
"People were leaving in round four like the fight was over. It really upsets me," Pereira concluded.
Finishing his kickboxing career with a respectable 75-5 record, Adesanya is 23-1 in MMA and undefeated in the middleweight division.
Since becoming champion in 2019 by stopping Rob Whittaker at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Adesanya has put together five defenses of the 185lbs strap and is on a three-match win streak since losing an attempt to become a two-division king again then-light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in March last year.
As for Pereira, who is two years Adesanya's senior at 35, he only made his UFC debut at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden in November 2021 and will fight for the title there a year and six days later.
Losing his MMA debut, he has since embarked on a blistering six-win run to improve to 6-1, with five of those victories finishes.
In the UFC, Pereira is 3-0 and already has two Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.