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UFC 276: Adesanya beats Cannonier to tee up grudge match with Pereira

By Ifeanyi Ibeh
03 July 2022   |   9:26 am
Israel Adesanya brushed aside the challenge of Jared Cannonier in a masterclass of technical precision at UFC 276 and looks set to have a grudge match against Alex Pereira – the only man to have ever knocked him out. The UFC middleweight champion's clash with his American challenger never quite ignited and Cannonier struggled to…

Israel Adesanya (L) of Nigeria punches Jared Cannonier in their middleweight title bout during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena on July 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by UFC)

Israel Adesanya brushed aside the challenge of Jared Cannonier in a masterclass of technical precision at UFC 276 and looks set to have a grudge match against Alex Pereira – the only man to have ever knocked him out.

The UFC middleweight champion’s clash with his American challenger never quite ignited and Cannonier struggled to lay a finger on the elusive Nigerian for large sections of the contest.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 02: Israel Adesanya of Nigeria prepares to enter the octagon for his middleweight title bout against Jared Cannonier during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena on July 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by UFC)

Adesanya, who thrilled fans with homage to WWE star The Undertaker in his walkout – and with an urn with his opponent’s name engraved on it – was too fast and intelligent for Cannonier but whet the appetite for his next defence.

“The first time I had you on skates, next time I’ll have you Frozen, like Elsa,” ‘The Last Stylebender’ said to Pereira, who obliterated Sean Strickland earlier in the night to earn what will inevitably be a title shot.

The compelling narrative was pushed forward when the UFC decided to match Pereira up on the same card in only his third UFC fight.

Pereira holds two kickboxing wins, including the heavy KO, against Adesanya, adding a real layer of interest to the prospective bout.

The narrative surrounding Pereira whenever he fights is undoubtedly his history with Adesanya.

A former world champion kickboxer, Pereira’s in-ring exploits have taken him to the UFC, making his debut at UFC 268 last November.

He won with an impressive flying knee and then followed up with another victory in March, against Bruno Silva.

Alex Pereira of Brazil knocks out Sean Strickland during the UFC 276 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by UFC)

The 34-year-old Brazilian has the talent and the storyline to make him a potential star.

In 2016, Pereira ended Adesanya’s 12-fight winning streak in kickboxing with a unanimous decision victory and earned him a rematch.

A lead left hook caught Adesanya in the rematch and left him out cold on the canvas and he later required oxygen as he struggled to instantly regain consciousness.

Pereira has looked brilliant in his MMA career so far and possesses the kind of lethal power that may trouble the champion where all others have failed.

“Many people talk about my two wins over Israel Adesanya and say that was just in kickboxing,” he said after his latest win. “I just beat the number 4 ranked guy so I know I earned that!”

The build-up for that highly-anticipated contest will start immediately.