Alex Pereira fought Israel Adesanya injured at UFC 281, revealing to ESPN that he entered the contest with a torn ligament in his right hand and ‘didn’t train very well’ in the lead-up to the fight.
Pereira might not have been feeling his best, but he still went on to defeat Adesanya via TKO, finishing the now-defeated champ with a barrage of punches in the fifth round to claim the UFC middleweight title.
“I didn’t train very well for this fight. I could have been better,” Pereira, who is the only man to defeat Adesanya in kickboxing and MMA, said. “But I won, I became champion. A lot of people talk nonsense and don’t know what was going on. I [tore] the ligaments. I think I can come back better for this next fight.”
Pereira is happy to fight Adesanya again next year but urged the former champ to ‘wait a bit’ before he steps into the Octagon with him again, warning of a similar outcome in a potential rematch.
“It doesn’t matter to me whether he or another will come,” Pereira continued. “If I were him, I would wait a bit, but since he wants to … he was the champion. If he really wants that, he deserves this rematch. It was a good fight. He hit me, he believes he can beat me. It doesn’t matter to me, I’ll fight. If there are two people, Adesanya and someone else, and you say who I want, I’ll say ‘Adesanya.’ Because he is him.”
Pereira’s middleweight title win over Adesanya saw the Brazilian surge to #8 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings and solidify himself as one of the most vicious knockout artists in the promotion. He won the title after just four fights in the UFC.