Israel Adesanya has been tipped to lose his next UFC middleweight title defence against Alex Pereira by a knockout defeat, according to former dual-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo.
Cejudo believes Adesanya’s Brazilian nemesis Pereira has superior striking power for a fight likely to be decided on the feet rather than the ground.
‘The Last Stylebender’ defends his title at UFC 281 in New York November 13. It’s a tricky fight for the Nigerian, with Pereira having twice beaten Adesanya in kickboxing – once by unanimous points in 2016 and then via a left hook knockout a year later.
Pereira is a former middleweight and light-heavyweight kickboxing champion at the Glory organisation, who has transferred his skills to the MMA scene.
He has a 6-1 record in the cage and is on a three-fight unbeaten run in the UFC that includes two fights of the night performances.
Adesanya is coming off a perceivably boring, yet dominant win over Jared Cannonier in his last outing in July at UFC 276.
Cejudo, a former Olympic wrestling champion who was the UFC’s bantamweight and flyweight champion in a 16-2 career through to 2020, feels Pereira has a more rounded game than Adesanyan and that could be telling at Madison Square Garden.
“I think Alex is gonna get it,” Cejudo said on his channel.
“This is why it’s so important that as a mixed martial artist that you become well-rounded; that you’re not just a striker with good defence. Because what happens when you get that other good striker that has better striking than you then you can’t take him down? Cause that’s kinda where we’re at now with Pereira and Adesanya.
“As good as Israel is, Alexander just still has better striking. He knocked him out the last time they fought, he beat him the first time. If this fight goes on its feet, I just gotta go with Pereira.”
However, another former fighter Chael Sonnen has expressed disagreement with Cejudo’s claims over the upcoming matchup.
Sonnen stated that he was not interested in Cejudo’s opinion as he had a wrestling background.
“Pereira’s gonna beat him. Pereira’s the better striker. He proved that the last time they fought when he knocked him out… When I hear experts in the know, they’re not trained kickboxers. They’re not the group I wanna hear from. I really wanna hear from Henry Hooft, specifically, who not only knows kickboxing, he knows what it takes to transfer and make that work in MMA. I really wanna hear from them. We’re not really hearing from those guys. I’m hearing from wrestlers. I’m hearing from grapplers.”