Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Farah Hannoun

Luke Rockhold: Alex Pereira ‘sucks on the ground,’ Israel Adesanya has to fight MMA to beat him

If Israel Adesanya can fight level-headed, Luke Rockhold is picking him to beat Alex Pereira.

Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) defends his middleweight title against Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in the UFC 281 main event Nov. 12. Pereira beat Adesanya twice in kickboxing, including once by knockout.

The Brazilian quickly rose up the UFC ranks and with just seven professional MMA fights, he gets to challenge for the title. No one has been able to hang with Adesanya on the feet at 185 pounds, but if he doesn’t mix things up, Rockhold thinks it could cost him.

“It just depends on how Israel fights,” Rockhold said in an interview with Helen Yee. “If Israel tries to fight him because (Pereira is) in his head – and if he’s in his head and you let guys get in your head – you know he lost to him in a close one, and then he got clipped in the second one because he let him get in his head.

“He was in his head. You can see he was in his head. Israel’s got to check himself and he’s got to fight MMA. We all know Alex Pereira sucks on the ground. We all know even Israel could probably f*cking put him away on the ground. This kid is dangerous as hell on the feet, so it all depends on Israel’s head space and how he fights it.”

Rockhold (16-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) returns from layoff of more than three years Saturday when he faces Paulo Costa in the UFC 278 co-main event in Salt Lake City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

If he gets past Brazilian powerhouse Costa, the former middleweight champion expects to be next in line for a title shot.

“I’m not going to do anything else,” Rockhold said. “If I don’t get it, they don’t get it.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.