Pereira became UFC middleweight champion after beating former two-time kickboxing rival Adesanya in New York last weekend, even while fighting with torn ligaments in his right hand
Alex Pereira has revealed he tore ligaments in his middle finger prior to beating Israel Adesanya to become UFC champion.
Brazilian star Pereira earned a last-gasp KO win over long-term rival Adesanya in New York earlier this month. Adesanya was ahead on the scorecards going into the final round, but 'Poatan' unleashed a barrage of shots to close the show.
There will be a whole host of potential fights available for the new division king when he returns, with an immediate rematch against 'The Last Stylebender' currently the front runner for 2023. Despite defeating Adesanya and winning the title after just four fights in the UFC, Pereira believes he has more to give and didn't train to his maximum capability for the clash.
"I didn't train very well for this fight. I could have been better, But I won, I became champion," Pereira said during an interview with ESPN Brazil. "A lot of people talk nonsense and don't know what was going on. I [tore] the ligaments. I think I can come back better for this next fight.
"It doesn't matter to me whether he [Israel Adesanya] or another will come. If I were him, I would wait a bit, but since he wants to he was the champion. If he really wants that, he deserves this rematch it doesn't matter to me."
Pereira has already publicly agreed to a second consecutive meeting with Adesanya, with the Nigerian star set to take a break before pursuing revenge in the new year. He could face a series of other challengers to his crown including rising star Khamzat Chimaev who would likely look for a title shot if he moves up to 185lb.
Who wins if the pair have a UFC rematch - Alex Pereira or Israel Adesanya? Let us know in the comments section below
Image:Frank Franklin II/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Frank Franklin II/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
After rewatching his performance in New York, Adesanya believes he would still be the champion if the referee had been different, and is confident he would have survived until the final bell. And it appears Adesanya will not forego the chance at reclaiming his crown as soon as possible, and still believes he is the man to halt Pereira's undefeated rise.
He said on the MMA Hour : "Yeah, me and him. It will be for the belt, it's gonna be me and him. I'll talk to Dana [White, UFC president] at some point but Mick [Maynard, UFC vice-president of talent relations], he's cool, Mick already knows what's next. “I’ll still fight him. If he was going to fight someone else and lose the belt, I’ll still fight him [next].
"I’ll fight him. I hope he’s the champion, but I’m just saying, hypothetically, I’ll still fight him. I’m crazy, bro. I can beat him. I know I can beat him. You’ve seen I can beat him. He just I won’t say luck, f*** luck he just invested well. A good game plan."