Sport: UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira set for UFC 281

'I run towards the fire': Israel Adesanya explains decision to fight Alex Pereira at UFC 281

  'I run towards the fire': Israel Adesanya explains decision to fight Alex Pereira at UFC 281 is now set to face the man who has defeated him twice in kickboxing, but the UFC middleweight champion is looking forward to their third pairing inside the octagon. is just three fights into his UFC career, with a total of seven professional MMA bouts. While his debut finish…Alex Pereira is just three fights into his UFC career, with a total of seven professional MMA bouts. While his debut finish of Andreas Michailidis and his spectacular knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 were impressive, any other fighter would most likely have more work to do before earning a shot at the title.

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira is headed to the realm of mixed martial arts and the main event of UFC 281. Adesanya vs. Pereira will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, Nov. 12.

  UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira set for UFC 281 © Provided by CBS Sports

The promotion announced UFC 281's main event on Friday. Adesanya (23-1) has proven to be one of the most difficult puzzles to solve since making the full-time transition from kickboxing to UFC in February 2018. Pereira (6-1) made the jump in 2021 and quickly established himself as a major player in the middleweight division. Adesanya is undefeated at 185-pounds in MMA; however, Pereira defeated him twice in kickboxing and remains the only man in combat sports to ever knockout Adesanya.

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Adesanya is slowly building his case as the greatest middleweight in UFC history with wins over Jared Cannonier, Robert Whittaker (twice), Marvin Vettori (twice), Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Kelvin Gastelum and Anderson Silva. Pereira entered UFC 276 unranked and leapfrogged the division by knocking out Sean Strickland inside of one round.

Adesanya and Pereira first met at Glory of Heroes 1 in 2016. Pereira was awarded the unanimous decision. They collided one year later in what was Adesanya's final pro kickboxing fight. "The Last Stylebender" performed well before Pereira uncorked a left hook that knocked out Adesanya.

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