Chronicle Patrick Côté: Israel Adesanya leaves with two strikes against Alex Pereira at UFC 281 | RDS

The UFC loves to create stories to promote a fight and with the history between middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, it was a no-brainer to pit them against each other on Saturday. Especially given the fact that Adesanya has lost to him twice in kickboxing and he should be hungry for revenge. The first fight was very close, but in the second, Pereira scored a knockout. brutal. When the UFC signed Pereira, that’s what we had in mind, a rematch. And that was the perfect scenario for the Brazilian: he won all three of his fights since joining, although the second was a little lackluster, but the first and third generated buzz.

There are still plenty of people who think Adesanya should have deserved the win in the first clash, but it was unequivocal in the second when he crumbled under the weight of an incredible left hook, which is Pereira’s weapon of choice. The psychological advantage is certainly on the side of Pereira, who will arrive with more confidence and without complex even if Adesanya is champion and it will be his sixth title defense.

Pereira is pretty green in mixed martial arts with only eight pro fights including three in the UFC, and he’s not very complete. His specialty is that he is unquestionably a striker amazing, one of the best in the whole organization. It remains to be seen who has improved the most since their last meeting. The fact that it’s now in the MMAs won’t change much in the fighting style, I’d be very surprised to see either wrestling techniques come out. Only the gloves will be different.

The mental aspect is super important for me, I think Adesanya comes with two takes against Pereira. It’s worth remembering that since losing to Jan Blachowicz in March 2021, Adesanya hasn’t been spectacular or very convincing. He played a lot of caution afterwards. In my opinion, if he stays too secure, he might get caught too. Another thing, we could see during the face-to-face how huge Pereira is. Adesanya has fought against slightly bigger guys like Yoel Romero before, but never as big and tall as Pereira. That’s a lot of factors that can play on Adesanya’s mind and that he has to manage.

We have a lot of expectations for Adesanya and the kind of show he should put on, but it’s mostly because of his arrogance and the fact that he talks a lot. If you talk a lot, you have to deliver the machine. He says he’s not just there to collect belts and wins, but to collect bodies. When you say that kind of thing, people expect you to walk into the cage like a lion and finish your fights before the limit. It didn’t happen like that at all on his last outings, it was even almost flat. We had been so used to extraordinary performances early in the UFC career. There was more for the finish before, whereas now he’s going for the win, which is okay too, but it just doesn’t line up with the way he’s selling. Otherwise it leaves everyone on their appetite.

A first career loss, in this case against Blachowicz, can affect someone a lot even if you didn’t get hurt. And it was a clear cut defeat, where Blachowicz struggled and took him to the ground, and against a big guy like him on top, Adesanya wasn’t able to do much to break the deadlock .

This time around the action is likely to take place standing up, and Adesanya must arrive ready and with a knife between his teeth as he showed when starting his career in the organization. I would be surprised if not, after all, wanting to avenge his two defeats should be sufficient motivation, especially since we bring back the images of the K.-O. which he suffered. There is enough to silence the skeptics.

Carla Esparza still neglected against Weili Zhang

In the semi-finals of the gala, Carla Esparza will make her first title defense since becoming champion again, this time against Zhang Weili.

At 35 today, Esparza is more mature and experienced, and she knows better how to handle the style of her opponents, but it cannot be said that she is significantly better than she was in her first reign.

There are a lot of people who believe that she is going to get dominated. It’s almost always the neglected, but yet it knows how to do the job. She signed six victories in a row and became champion again by dethroning none other than Rose Namajunas. It shows all the resilience and aggressiveness she has, and not everyone can do that. This is not to be underestimated. It’s been 13 years that Esparza has been fighting against the best and proving that she can bounce back. That kind of mentality, you either have it or you don’t. She, she has it. Becoming champion again after losing your title by being demolished by Joanna Jedrzejczyk is quite impressive.

Yeah, she gon’ get hit, and we gon’ see a classic in between striker and grapple. Esparza can’t fight at the end of the fist and go into a blow-for-blow war like Jedrzejczyk did against the Chinese or it won’t last long. If she wrestles well like she is able to do, Esparza could keep her belt. It always depends on who can put their strategy into practice best, and since the fight starts standing up, Zhang goes with an advantage. The latter certainly expects Esparza to try to bring her to the ground.

Zhang is strong, she’s a machine and she’s explosive, but we’ll see if she’s really as complete as she lets on. I wonder if she will be able to grapple and work well on the ground against Esparza. It was there that Rose Namajunas managed to defeat her in their second fight, and Zhang looked helpless.

A Poirier – Chandler duel that looks like a final

Dustin Poirier has never lost two fights in a row in his entire career, will Michael Chandler break the trend?

This is for many the fight they are most eager to see, it is in a way the main event People. Some people think it’s a shame it’s not a five-round fight, but I think as far as the main stakeholders are concerned, they’re probably happy about it. They are in danger of being robbed.

The two go there for the finish, and with a new lightweight champion in Islam Makhachev, the whole division is revived. Charles Oliveira had already beaten all his contenders, but now they suddenly have a chance to return to the league faster. So the motivation for both is even greater.

Poirier is coming back from a defeat against Oliveira precisely, while Chandler has just passed one of the most spectacular K.-O. of the year if not the most spectacular against Tony Ferguson. But when you compare the list of opponents they each faced, it’s a big advantage for Poirier in terms of quality and the experience it gives him. Among his last 10 opponents, only one has never been champion, Dan Hooker. At 33, he returned to his prime. Chandler is in incredible physical shape but is closer to 40.

Standing, Poirier is more technical and hits in volume, while Chandler is more of a “garrocheux” who can throw bombs with both hands. Poirier is cleaner, in a straight line, and he uses his reach well. He will have to control the distance well against a guy like Chandler who is super explosive and who charges forward to surprise his rival.

Chandler might be tempted to take the fight to the ground and his ground and pound is dangerous, but he will have to keep pace with Poirier too and find a way to surprise him to succeed in his throws. Poirier is still a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he is able to fight on the ground. He even came very close to guillotining Khabib Nurmagomedov. Wrestlers tend to try to attack the double-leg and leave their head vulnerable, prone to a guillotine, so care must be taken.

I give a slight advantage to Poirier in this duel, but we can expect fireworks between two guys who are able to get a knockout, who are accomplished and complete. It could end quickly, but we all want it to last long enough to enjoy it, it’s going to be “beautiful violence”.

* Interview by Audrey Roy

Chronicle Patrick Côté: Israel Adesanya leaves with two strikes against Alex Pereira at UFC 281 | RDS