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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Farah Hannoun

Daniel Cormier questions timing around Israel Adesanya’s decision to rematch Alex Pereira

Daniel Cormier thinks several factors led to the announcement of Alex Pereira’s rematch with Israel Adesanya.

Pereira dethroned Adesanya to become middleweight champion this past November at UFC 281. Considering Adesanya’s dominant title reign at 185 pounds, running things back with Pereira seemed imminent. But Cormier thinks the announcement timing for the title-fight rematch was surprising.

Last week, the promotion announced Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) would run things back in the UFC 287 headliner on April 8.

“Two factors: Why is it happening now? And for what reason is it happening?” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “One: Obviously we all knew that it would be at Israel Adesanya’s decision or discretion whether or not he would get a championship fight. From the moment he lost, I was saying and screaming from the rooftops, ‘If anyone deserves an immediate rematch, it’s Israel Adesanya.’

“Because of what he had done in the middleweight division, and honestly what he had done to start his UFC and mixed martial arts career. He deserves a rematch and honestly, for Alex Pereira, it would seem to be the best matchup for him in terms of a first title defense.”

The story between Pereira and Adesanya sells itself. Pereira now holds three wins over “The Stylebender” – with two in kickboxing. But Adesanya was en route to winning their past two outings before getting finished.

Cormier, a former two-division UFC champion turned commentator and analyst, wonders if Pereira talking about the prospect of avenging his teammate Glover Teixeira’s loss to Jamahal Hill, and the possibility of facing Robert Whittaker had Adesanya worried that he could lose out on the immediate rematch.

“Maybe he’s worried that if Pereira fights someone else, he loses,” Cormier added. “Izzy still holds a ton of cards but I just questioned whether or not the decisions being made are based – or the timing of the decision is based on this newfound push that Alex has been experiencing because of Jamahal being the champion and beating his mentor and training partner in Glover Teixeira. It just didn’t feel like this was in the works before.”

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