Israel Adesanya in search of the promised land at UFC 281

Undisputed middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will face perhaps his toughest task yet in defending his title when he comes up against Alex Pereira at UFC 281 on Sunday morning, 13 November.
Brazilian Alex Pereira (6-1) has defeated Nigerian Israel Adesanya (23-1) twice, albeit in kickboxing, early in both their careers and remains the only person to have knocked Adesanya out in combat sport.
“This is the fight everybody wanted to see, and now they got the fight,” Pereira said on Tuesday.
Despite their fight history dating back to 2016, Pereira maintains the fight is not personal.
“What made me want this fight is the belt. It’s not personal; I just want to have the belt,” he said.
Pereira is relatively new to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) arena, making his debut in the Octagon only 12 months ago.
His first fight was at UFC 268 where he knocked out Andreas Michailidis in the second round. At a UFC Fight Night in March this year, he defeated compatriot Bruno Silva in a gruelling encounter.
The Brazilian then went on to knock out veteran middleweight Sean Strickland at UFC 276 to cement his place as a title contender.
“It’s been a perfect year,” Pereira said. “Three wins and a chance to fight for the title; you can’t ask for anything else.”
While Pereira is a rookie in the UFC, Adesanya, despite only being 33, is as experienced as they come.
Nicknamed ‘The Last Stylebender’, he has dominated the middleweight division, currently boasting a 12-fight win-streak – the second longest streak in the division’s history after Anderson Silva’s 13.
“The one who laughs the last laughs the best,” said the middleweight champ about his UFC 281 opponent.
“When I fought him, I thought I won the first fight. In the second fight, he was honestly on skates, the referee saved his ass because I was about to drop him. The third round he knocks me out in his own country – that’s a beautiful story for him, but I’m still here.”
Adesanya has already defended his title twice this year, against Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier.
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However, he has recently come under fire for his fighting style. Adesanya rose through the middleweight ranks as a fighter who displayed impressive finishes and won thrilling battles. More recently he has logged unanimous decision victories in four of his five title defences.
Nonetheless, Adesanya is still one of the trickiest fighters ...