Fighter Declared as ‘Best Chance’ to Beat Israel Adesanya at 185

Israel Adesanya

Getty Israel Adesanya prepares to fight Marvin Vettori during their UFC 263 middleweight championship match at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.

Appearing recently on ESPN’s “DC & RC” podcast, top-ranked UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith gave his take on middleweight king Israel Adesanya.

“The Stylebender” is the most dominant middleweight champion fans have seen since Anderson Silva ruled the division. Last weekend, Adesanya notched his fourth title defense in a row, defeating Robert Whittaker via unanimous decision at UFC 271.

Besides losing to then-light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz when Adesanya tried to earn 205-pound gold, The Last Stylebender is undefeated in MMA.

Smith, who also works for ESPN as a fight analyst, believes there is one combatant in particular who has the “best chance” at beating Adesanya at middleweight.

And that’s the man who has already done it twice in kickboxing, Alex Pereira. One of the victories the Brazilian holds over Adesanya is by KO.

Pereira is 4-1 as a mixed martial artist and he made his UFC debut last year at UFC 268, finishing Andreas Michailidis with strikes.

Alex Pereira

GettyAlex Pereira celebrates after his TKO victory against Andreas Michailidis in their middleweight bout during UFC 268 in November 2021.

But even though Smith thinks Pereira could dethrone The Last Stylebender, he knows it’d be a tough task.

“I think the guy that’s probably got the best chance, and this is gonna be a crazy statement, he’s in the UFC but he’s not ranked,” Smith said via “I think it’s Alex Pereira. This kid is good. The problem with Alex is he’s gonna have a tough time getting to Israel. There’s a lot of high level wrestlers, some good jiu-jitsu guys, I think his hardest path is to get to him. I’m not putting a whole lot of weight into him already knocking Israel out in another organisation and in another sport. He’s a guy who can fight Israel at his exact same game. He plays the same game, fights very similar, he’s very comfortable. He’ll keep the fight slow but explode when he has to.

“He’s got the power and the kicking ability, which is really big when it comes to Israel Adesanya. That’s why Jan Blachowicz was so successful.”

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Adesanya & Pereira Kickboxed in 2016 & 2017, Pereira Knocked Out The Last Stylebender

Pereira and Adesanya fought in two kickboxing matches, with the bouts taking place in 2016 and 2017 for Glory of Heroes. Pereira earned his first win over The Last Stylebender via unanimous decision, but it was their second kickboxing battle that garnered him the most attention.

At Glory of Heroes 7 in March 2017, Pereira knocked out Adesanya with a left hook. Watch the KO below via the YouTube above.

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Pereira Is 4-1 in MMA & Is On a 4-Fight Finishing Streak

Pereira made his professional MMA debut in 2015, but it wasn’t a success for the Brazilian. He lost via rear-naked choke to Quemuel Ottoni at Jungle Fight 82.

That loss would prove to be the last thus far of his five-fight career. Since then, Pereira has finished two opponents via KO and two via TKO, which includes his TKO at UFC 268 in November 2021.

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