Six months after their first encounter inside the Octagon, UFC middleweight champion Alex ‘Poatan‘ Pereira will run it back with Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 on April 8. However, this is the fourth time the duo is facing each other in the realm of combat sports, twice in kickboxing prior to their UFC bout. The upcoming bout will mark one of the most anticipated rematches in the recent history of the promotion.
Izzy headed into UFC 281 as the reigning middleweight champion, while Alex was coming off of back-to-back finishes while climbing up the ladder to the title. Madison Square Garden bore witness to stunning exchanges between the arch-rivals for almost 5 rounds. However, Pereira got the better of Adesanya during the 5th round, eventually securing a TKO victory over the latter.
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In wake of their rematch, Alex posted a minor segment of a hard sparring session on Instagram. The 35-year-old has been known for his power since his GLORY kickboxing days. In the clip, the Brazilian appears to be unloading a barrage of remorseless punches on his sparring partner. Despite the clip’s short duration, one can see Alex’s improved reflexes as he showcases quick yet deadly combinations.
While looking confident in his rematch preparation, the 35-year-old posted another tweet that displays what would have been a fascinating sparring session. The tweet shows pictures of Pereira exchanging leather with super-heavyweight Zhilei Zhang, a 2008 Olympics silver medalist. Zhang looks visibly huge against Pereira, and he is. The professional boxer is 6’6″ tall and weighs a whopping 290 pounds.
Alex Pereira comments on his grappling with Israel Adesanya
One of the most recognized topics surrounding their first Octagon faceoff was how Izzy was on the verge of finishing Pereira in the first round. While this could have potentially helped Adesanya retain his gold strap, unfortunately, it snapped his title fights reign. One such thing that Izzy fans hesitate to bring up is that the Brazilian took down Adesanya with ease.
However, the UFC roster was barely impressed with Pereira’s grappling. From the likes of Khamzat Chimaev to Bo Nickal, several fighters smell opportunity in the current champion, considering it as the “easiest fight” of their careers. It is worth mentioning that after winning the middleweight title, Alex’s BJJ coach awarded him a brown belt. Recently, Pereira did an interview with ESPN. Pointing towards his criticized grappling, Poatan said,
“All the guys that come in and roll [with me], grapple, do MMA, they leave very surprised and say, ‘Man, I didn’t know he could grapple like that.’ But [I’m] not trying to prove anything to anybody. [I’m] just doing [my] thing, but stay tuned for the future. People say that [I] cannot grapple, but almost nobody could be able to put Israel down with a takedown. [I] took him down, so what’s going on?”
To substantiate Pereira’s claim, arguably better wrestlers like Yoel Romero and Marvin Vettori barely found any success in taking Adesanya to the ground. As the fight week approaches closer, fans are eager to find out whether it will be another striking battle or a more wrestling-heavy contest.
Who do you think gets to keep the highly coveted UFC middleweight gold? Let us know in the comments down below.