Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has proven to have Adesanya’s (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) number during their three combat sports encounters. The reigning UFC middleweight champ has won twice in kickboxing and once in MMA competition.
The MMA win was the most high profile of the bunch, with Pereira pulling off a stunning come-from-behind rally that saw him claim the 185-pound belt with a fifth-round TKO of Adesanya last November at UFC 281. He’s now 3-0 in head-to-head matchups, but Adesanya has arguably won the overwhelming majority of the actual fight time.
Teixeira, the recently retired former UFC light heavyweight champion who serves as Pereira’s coach and mentor, knows the next fight is likely to be the most difficult of the bunch. He knows it’s going to take an exceptional performance to win again and said execution has been the key focus of training camp.
“He knows the way we won the last fight – he waited too much to pull the trigger,” Teixeira told MMA Junkie. “He just needs to be more alert in this fight, because Izzy, he’s fast. He moves a lot, and that’s what we’ve been working on. Be alert, be focused and when the opportunity comes, just take the fight to finish. He is a finisher. He can finish a fight at any given second.
“He’s a powerhouse. The guy hits so hard and he’s just got to pressure more and get it done, like he did in the fifth round. Of course, he knows not to just go crazy and try to finish the fight in the first round. But be more alert.”
If Pereira is able to win at UFC 287, which takes place April 8 at Miami-Dade Arena in Miami and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+, he can move on from the Adesanya chapter and look ahead to new challenges.
What exactly those challenges look like is unclear, but Teixeira said his fellow Brazilian has the ability to compete across three weight classes and wouldn’t rule out a change in divisions down the line.
“Eventually he will,” Teixeira said. “We talk about it. He can fight anywhere. Look at this guy. He can fight in any division. He can fight in heavyweight, light heavyweight – he’s big. Eventually I think he’s going to want to do that because the weight cut is a big cut for him. He doesn’t complain. He just keeps going and doing it well, because he likes to be 185, and he felt good. But he can do 205 for sure and eventually it might happen because if he goes up, there are super fights, big fights. I think it’s a possibility.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 287.