Adesanya is a tall and long kickboxer who has enjoyed a significant reach and reach advantage over most of his middleweight opponents. Adesanya uses his length to position himself just outside of his opponent’s striking range, making it difficult to land a clean shot on Adesanya. Adesanya then punishes his opponents with his superior strike from distance, and his takedown defense and defensive struggle were good enough to fend off the grapplers he faced at middleweight.
Alex Pereira presents a significant matching problem for Adesanya as Pereira can match most of Adesanya’s advantages at middleweight. Pereira is an elite kickboxer who is huge for the division, and his size, reach, and punching skills are very similar to Adesanya’s. Adesanya won’t be able to position himself outside of Pereira’s punching range to the same degree he’s enjoyed in most of his middleweight fights, and that’s dangerous against someone as explosive as Pereira. This will likely be Adesanya’s biggest challenge yet in the middleweight division.
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Pereira has great knockout power and knocked out Adesanya’s lights with a left hook in their second kickboxing match. Pereira has one of the biggest left hooks in combat sports, and his left hook was also his punch in his last knockout win over Sean Strickland. An orthodox fighter’s left hook on another orthodox fighter can be such a devastating punch because the primary defensive shoulder is on the opposite side of the left hook, giving more room to find the chin on the left side .
Although the two are very similar in terms of fighting skills, Adesanya has a significant advantage in UFC experience and UFC title fighting experience, which could be noticeable as the fight continues. Adesanya has fought in eight title fights over five rounds in the UFC, something Pereira has yet to experience. Pereira has just seven MMA fights in total. Title fight experience and five-round MMA fight experience could be the difference in this fight between two fighters who are very evenly matched in terms of skill.
If Adesanya can keep pace, protect early, let Pereira slow down and then take over in the championship rounds, he could position himself to win a decision using precision striking.
Pick: Israel Adesanya to win by decision (+120)
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