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Alex Pereira wants to train with Israel Adesanya if UFC rivalry is actually over

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Alex Pereira wants to train with Israel Adesanya if UFC rivalry is actually over

Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya could trade blows in the UFC again, but what about inside a gym instead? Pereira is leaving the door open for the idea, with one condition.

Pereira and Adesanya have been huge rivals for years in both kickboxing and MMA. Pereira defeated Adesanya twice in the kickboxing ring before chasing him to the UFC and stealing his middleweight title. Adesanya finally defeated Pereira to reclaim his belt in 2023, then lost it to Sean Strickland afterward. Pereira now holds the UFC’s 205-pound title.

After winning the UFC light heavyweight title with a knockout of Jiri Prochazka in November, Pereira offered Adesanya a chance to fight him for the 205-pound belt, however Adesanya was unreceptive to the idea. Pereira was then booked to instead defend his title against former UFC champion Jamahal Hill on April 13 in the main event of UFC 300, and “Poatan” said he wouldn’t be opposed to the thought of training with Adesanya in the future.

“Anything can happen,” Pereira said on The MMA Hour. “Maybe he and the organization have the interest [to book that fight again]. I’m here. But I think it’s over. I don’t know. I’d even train with him if I had the opportunity. He’s very experienced, he’s done what he’s done, and I’m also very experienced and have been doing many things. It’s two styles that have similar things, but many things different that could add a lot to our games.”

Pereira noted the only way he would ever train with Adesanya is “if we’re sure it’s impossible that we fight again.” Pereira previously trained with Strickland after knocking him out, and has had former rival Yousri Belgaroui in his camp and corner multiple times in recent bouts. With Adesanya, “if I think something could happen again, I obviously wouldn’t do that.”

The UFC champion said a rivalry must exist when you’re both in fire together, but “it has to stop” once you’re no longer competing for the same goal.

“I really wanted to [fight him again], but I honestly think it’s over now,” Pereira said. “I don’t know. I think it’s over. I’ve tried [to call him out]. It was my belt on the line. I came to the UFC and did three fights to get to the belt and it was a huge risk for me, it was hard.

“Since I wanted to do this rubber match so much, Adesanya and I — and if he were to move up to light heavyweight, and maybe people said he had to fight once before fighting for my belt, I wouldn’t want that because there’s risk of him losing. How am I going to fight a guy that has lost? No, come straight [at me]. But he showed no interest, so I kind of let it go.”

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