The defense is where Firas Zahabi sees the most contrast between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira.
At UFC 281, held on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) defends his title against Antonio Rogerio “T.R.” Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC). Pay-per-view broadcast of the main card follows preliminary rounds shown on ESPNews and earlier rounds shown on ESPN+.
Pereira has beaten Adesanya in kickboxing twice, both times by knockout. However, Zahabi believes that Adesanya did better than his opponent in those bouts.
“I think Israel Adesanya is going to win,” Zahabi said.
“Why is he going to win? I went over their fights, I went over their footage. … I thought Adesanya won their first meeting. Their second fight, Adesanya was putting it on him and then he came back in the next round and got knocked out bad.
“Pereira has one of the greatest left hooks I’ve ever seen, incredibly dangerous man – incredible kicking power, incredible scissor knee. He’s an incredible finisher, yes. However, why am I picking Adesanya if (Pereira is) such a great finisher? Adesanya’s defense is much greater.”
Zahabi claims that Adesanya can take advantage of Pereira’s proclivity to be struck in their MMA bouts. As proof, he mentioned his victory by unanimous decision over Bruno Silva.
“Even in his UFC fights, he’s been hit,” Zahabi said.
“One of his UFC fights, he got hit hard and he got hit often. He ended up winning a decision – still very impressive, but nonetheless, if you watch Pereira’s fights, as devastating as he is, sometimes he’s not consistently so and he does get hit a lot. Now Adesanya has consistently been performing every single fight. Take out his Blachowicz fight – he fought a guy who’s way too heavy for him.
“He’s been incredibly consistent his entire career, and I expect him to be consistent again this weekend. I expect him to have better footwork, better distance control, better defense and very similar offense. Adesanya is also a finisher. Adesanya has greater variety, Adesanya switches sides, Adesanya’s footwork is far better. Am I giving Pereira no chance to win? Not at all. I’m giving this a 51-49 in favor of Adesanya. Israel Adesanya also has the option to take Alex down.”