UFC light heavyweight challenger Alex Pereira believes that Israel Adesanya has never forgotten the day he was knocked out, as the two meet for the first time since that fateful kickboxing bout back in 2017.
Adesanya has lost just once as an MMA fighter (and that was when he moved up to light heavyweight to try and become a two-division champ) but in what turned to be his last-ever kickboxing match, Pereira sent him to the canvas with a left hook.
Less than a year later, Adesanya would debut in the UFC – and has never looked back.
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But that moment highlights just how intriguing this UFC 281 title fight is – because for the first time, Adesanya is facing someone that knows they can beat him – even if it was in a different sport.
“It’s still there, for sure,” Pereira said through an interpreter when asked if the champ still held memories of the time he was knocked out.
“I don’t know how it’s going to be or how he could possibly erase that from his mind, but I know it’s still there.”
When is UFC 281?
The main card of UFC 281 kicks off at 2pm (AEDT) in New York, at Madison Square Garden – Adesanya’s fight is likely to be at around 4pm.
Will Israel Adesanya win?
Adesanya has never lost as a middleweight, and is, as always, a favourite with the bookies – but not as short as he usually is. On Sportsbet, the Kiwi is $1.50 to win while the Brazilian is $2.62.
How can I watch UFC 281?
The card will be shown at plenty of pubs around Australia – but If you’re stuck inside or want to have some mates over instead, it’s a $59.95 PPV through either Foxtel’s Main Event channel or the Kayo Sports app.
Who else is fighting on Sunday?
America’s Carla Esparza will defend her strawweight title against China’s Zhang Weili, while former Interim UFC Lightweight champion Dustin Poirier clashes with Michael Chandler.
Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili
Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler
Frankie Edgar vs. Chris Gutierrez
Dan Hooker vs. Claudio Puelles
Brad Riddell vs. Renato Moicano
Erin Blanchfield vs. Molly McCann
Dominick Reyes vs. Ryan Spann
Andre Petroski vs. Wellington Turman
Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez
Michael Trizano vs. Seung Woo Choi
Julio Arce vs. Montel Jackson
Carlos Ulberg vs. Nicolae Negumereanu
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