Israel Adesanya told Alex Pereira he didn't like him during a private chat after his UFC title defeat last weekend.
UFC middleweight champion Adesanya was attempting to defend his title against bitter rival Pereira at UFC 281 in New York, but after controlling large periods of the fight he was knocked out in the final round. This was a devastating blow for Adesanya who had already been beaten twice by the Brazilian during their kickboxing careers in 2016 and 2017.
The pair had exchanged verbal barbs in the build-up to the fight, which even spilled over during the showdown where footage showed Pereira threatening to kill Adesanya. However the pair did manage to exchange pleasantries following the final bell, where 'The Last Stylebender' showed his respect.
"I don't know him as a person," Adesanya told the MMA Hour when discussing what happened following the stoppage with his opponent in the octagon. "I told him after the fight, when I took a bow to the crowd, he came up to me and said, 'Hey, hey... respect, respect.' And I was like, 'I don't like you, you don't like me, but respect.' And we shook hands. Energies don't mix and that's okay. This is war. So war still wages on."
The defeat was a devastating blow for Adesanya who had not been beaten at 185lb since joining the UFC, but once again come unstuck against the devastating 'Poatan', who had fought just three times in the promotion prior to the win. The champion refused to be drawn into the pressure of the build up this time, but had stated confidently that he is capable of beating Pereira.
And despite losing at the third time of asking, the 33-year-old maintains that he can defeat Pereira and expects an immediate rematch to be put in place for next year. “I’ll watch the fight again,” he continued. “I haven’t watched the fight again, but I don’t think I’m going to fixate on it, because it’s not one of these things that’s like, ‘Oh, goddamn it!’ I’ll fight him again. I’ll probably fight him two more times.
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“I’ll still fight him. If he was going to fight someone else and lose the belt, I’ll still fight him [next]. I’ll fight him. I hope he’s the champion, but I’m just saying, hypothetically, I’ll still fight him. I’m crazy, bro. I can beat him. I know I can beat him. You’ve seen I can beat him. He just I won’t say luck, f*** luck he just invested well. A good game plan.
"He’s a good fighter, but I know it’s my ego, maybe. Sure. But I’m allowed. I just believe I’m better. The opportunities I’ve gotten, to be able to do what I’ve done, and to be able to set up — not even a comeback, but set up for the next chapter.”