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Michael Bisping says Israel Adesanya won’t be as defensive against Alex Pereira: ‘Israel is going to fight’

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Michael Bisping says Israel Adesanya is not going to be able to be overly defensive against Alex Pereira.

Next weekend, Adesanya puts his middleweight title on the line against Pereira in the main event of UFC 281. It’s a big fight for Adesanya for multiple reasons. First, it gives Adesanya a chance to avenge two kickboxing losses to Pereira, the second of which came by brutal knockout. Second, Adesanya has recently come under fire from fans who have criticized his performances as too defensive. But Michael Bisping says that with Pereira, that will not be an option.

“One of the negative things about Israel Adesanya that people do say is that lately, he hasn’t fought to win,” Bisping said on his YouTube channel. “He’s having more of a defensive style. Listen, you see this a lot with UFC champions, because the stakes are so high, the pressure is immense, the lifestyle you can live when you’re defending the belt that many times, generating that kind of cash, world famous wherever you go, endorsement deals all over the place. To lose, you don’t just lose the fight, you lose all of that that goes with it: the lifestyle, the stardom, the fame, the deals, the money. It really is life changing. So there does come an element of pressure with that…

“But coming into this one, Israel is going to fight. Israel is going to fight, because Pereira, I don’t believe, will be scared of him. He’s going to go forward, because he went out there and he beat Izzy, in kickboxing, twice. That reinforces his mind that he the better striker, that he is the better fighter, and now he’s going to think, ‘With four ounce gloves on, I’m going to have an even greater chance of knocking out Israel Adesanya.’ And the way he did that in the kickboxing was he went forward, he was aggressive, and we’ve seen that with Pereira. He goes forward.”

Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya | Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While Adesanya has dismissed the criticism of his recent title defenses, his recent run of title defenses has undeniably been lackluster. Since losing in his failed attempt to claim the light heavyweight title at UFC 259, Adesanya has won three unanimous decision victories in underwhelming fights with Marvin Vettori, Robert Whittaker, and Jared Cannonier. Those performances, plus Pereira’s two wins over him, have left Adesanya as only a small favorite in their upcoming bout, and Pereira has been open in his disdain for Adesanya. But as the fight approaches, Bisping warns Pereira of being overconfident against a man who has defended the middleweight title five times.

“He has the knockout power advantage, in my opinion, [and] he also has the psychological advantage, but we’ve got to remember, Izzy has been in the UFC for a long time, defending the belt forever, and if you don’t think Izzy has [gotten] better, has improved, then you’d be a fool,” Bisping said. “And if Pereira thinks it’s the same Izzy showing up to the fight night in Madison Square Garden, UFC 281, then Pereira would be a fool as well.

“There’s levels to the game. That is an old thing that people always say, but it’s true, and when you get to the UFC, you have to level up. When you get to a No. 1 contender fight, you have to go the extra yard. When you become the god damn champion, every single time you’re fighting, you’re fighting the No. 1 contender, potentially the next best fighter on the planet in your weight division. So you’ve got to take your training camp to the next level… And this will be the seventh time that he’s done that.”

UFC 281 takes place Nov. 12 in New York City.

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