Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira

Trinity News Sport explores one of the most intense rivalries in the history of combat sports

Some athletes are true geniuses in their disciplines, and Israel Adesanya is one of the best kickboxers in history. Dominating, with a surprising style and a rare technique, the New Zealander has defeated most of the opponents he has faced in his career. Nevertheless, one man won each time against Adesanya. That man is Brazil’s Alex Pereira.

In May 2010, Israel Adesanya began his kickboxing adventure. Quickly, the “Last Stylebender” as he’s popularly known, rose to the top of the discipline. Between 2014 and 2017, the New Zealander performed in the most prestigious kickboxing organisation in the world, the Singapore-based Glory. While he defeated the best boxers on the planet, Izzy faced, on 2 April 2016 a man who would chase him for all his career: Alex Pereira.

In their first confrontation, Israel Adesanya dominated the fight. Nevertheless, the judges of the match decided to grant it to the Brazilian. A victory by decision for Alex Pereira that allowed him to claim the title of Glory. A year later, Alex Pereira was champion of the organisation and Israel Adesanya came to try to take the belt. While he dominated the match and came close to finishing Pereira, the New Zealander was surprised and was given the first knockout of his career. After this defeat, the Last Stylebender made the choice to make his transition to MMA.

“In MMA, Israel Adesanya wasted no time before getting noticed.”

In MMA, Israel Adesanya wasted no time before getting noticed. After a few fights in regional leagues, the Auckland prodigy signed with the UFC. Izzy quickly established himself as one of the fan favourites and on 5 October 2019, the New Zealander was crowned world champion, defeating Robert Whittaker by KO. After brilliantly defending his belt 5 times, Izzy tried on 12 November 2022 to defend it against a man he knows well Alex Pereira.

In this first MMA clash, Israel Adesanya dominated the proceedings. More technical, the New Zealander came within seconds of finishing his rival. Nevertheless, despite a perfect fight, Izzy is surprised and Alex Pereira won again — this time, by TKO in the fifth round.

Now a challenger, Israel Adesanya has asked for revenge against the man who is at all costs. Thus, in the main event of UFC 287, The Last Stylebender will try one last time to defeat his worst enemy. Chased all his career by Alex Pereira, this time, Israel Adesanya intends to show that he is the hunter. Determined to prove that he is the best middleweight on the planet, the New Zealander wants to impose himself with the manner. For his part, the Brazilian champion is confident. The final meeting between the two promises to be explosive.