Israel Adesanya has been warned he may have to poison his long-time rival Alex Pereira if he is to regain his middleweight title.
The legendary former champion was seconds away from a comfortable decision victory over Pereira in their UFC 281 clash earlier this month; their third meeting of their MMA and kickboxing careers. But with two minutes to go in the final round, the Brazilian stopped him and handed him his first loss at middleweight.
In two kickboxing clashes and now one MMA bout, Pereira has hardly been able to win a round against Adesanya. But, somehow he has managed to first sneak a decision in their first meeting before coming from behind in their next two and landing knockout wins.
And fellow middleweight Chris Curtis has noted that Adesanya has found his own "personal boogeyman" in Pereira, who has managed to win the UFC title within just eight MMA fights. Speaking with Helen Yee, Curtis suggested that poison may be his only option after multiple failed attempts to beat the Brazilian.
"God, I'm not even an Izzy fan," Curtis joked. "Anyone that knows me, I get a lot of s*** for not being an Izzy fan. Just not a fan. But I actually feel bad for Izzy. Like bro, you have your own personal boogeyman. How many times can you do everything right and the dude's like, 'and last second, ahaha! I win!'
"Like, he was winning the fight, what I thought it could have been four rounds to one maybe. Like going to have that fight ended, he was two minutes from like retaining his title. And Pereira does it again. You got your own personal f***ing boogeyman. That is miserable.
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"At that point you just have to poison him. Because like you can't defeat him in one-on-one combat so we've got to do the gladiator thing and like stab him or poison him before the fight. I think he's played that s*** off. Because if one dude kept hounding me down my entire career and beating me, I'm going to come find you at home. I'm settling this with knives, I don't care."
Curtis is currently the No.14-ranked middleweight in the UFC, and has been an outspoken critic of Adesanya's for a long time. The ex-champion was dominant at 185lb and had never lost at the weight prior to this month, only tasting defeat when he jumped to light-heavyweight in the hopes of becoming two-weight world champion last year.
Despite having been beaten three times by Pereira, the UFC only recognises one of those losses, and will likely give Adesanya an immediate world title rematch. He had defended the belt five times after unifying his interim title with Robert Whittaker's undisputed one, and is considered one of the all-time greats in the division.