All the pressure is on Israel Adesanya this Saturday at UFC 287.
Sure, Alex Pereira will be defending his UFC middleweight title for the first time. And as a champion, that pressure will be on his shoulders.
But for Adesanya, this could very well be a do-or-die fight.
UFC 287 takes place from the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida, airing live on ESPN+ pay-per-view. Along with Pereira vs. Adesanya, Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal meet in a welterweight co-main event.
Back at UFC 281, it was Pereira shocking MMA fans with a fifth round knockout of Adesanya. That marked the second meeting between the two, as Pereira bested Adesanya in 2016 in a kickboxing matchup.
If Adesanya falls to 0-3 vs. Pereira, that might just seal the deal on any future encounters. Especially for the title.
But the 33-year-old has shown he can recover. After winning his first 20 fights, including the UFC title, Adesanya fell to Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight via decision for that belt.
He bounced back, besting Marvin Vettori, Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier via decision over the course of 13 months. Each time, he looked more and more unbeatable.
Unbeatable, that is, until Pereira stood across from him. The reigning champion is 7-1 with wins in each of his last seven – including four UFC victories.
He has finished six of those opponents, and also holds a 33-7 mark in the kickboxing world with 21 more finishes.