Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira set for middleweight blockbuster at UFC 281

The UFC have confirmed a blockbuster middleweight title fight between stars Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira in November.

The duo are set to face off at UFC 281 on 12 November at the iconic Madison Square Gardens in New York.

Matchups have been relatively tough to find for Adesanya of late, who has effectively begun to lap the middleweight division after defending his belt five times.

But Pereira - who is 6-1 in MMA - presents a different problem for Adesanya.

Coming off a highlight reel KO of the trash-talking Steve Strickland, the Brazilian star boasts a combat sports record against the mercurial Stylebender that no one has: a knockout victory.

Pereira fought Adesanya twice under the Glory kickboxing promotion, winning via points in 2016, then via a spicy left hook - the same that recently floored Strickland - in 2017. 

Pereira also has glittering credentials, as he would go on the become Glory middleweight champion as well as light heavyweight champion 2021.

Nonetheless, the ever-confident Adesanya is ready to walk into the fire for redemption…

"I've always picked the guy no one wants to fight," the ambitious Adesanya told ESPN's SportsCenter.

"The guy everyone runs away from, I run towards. So yeah, I run towards the fire, and this is no different.

"After he beat me in Brazil, I never had any plans of trying to get revenge or anything like that because I don't hold on to things, I let go of things. But again, I'm telling you, the universe has presented this to me and it's right there. The perfect alley-oop, and I'm going to slam this b*tch."

In Adesanya's last three title defences, opponents Jared Cannonier, Robert Whittaker and Daniel Vettori have all been arguably timid in their approach to the middleweight champion.

Unable to find gaps in his defence but rightfully weary of his speed and skill on the counter-attack, they inevitably adopted a more defensive approach.

However, Adesanya knows the aggressive Pereira will not fall into this trap.

"I'm really excited to have someone finally who after the first round or the second round, they realise they can't do sh*t and just want to be defensive," added Adesanya, before throwing more coal in the hype train's furnace.

"I'm excited to have someone who's going to attack me. Who's going to try to finish me. He's done it before in the past in kickboxing. So for me, it's like is he going to get knocked out, or am I going to get knocked out? So that's why you have to tune in and find out."

The UFC 281 card is still being built in the dark rooms over at UFC HQ, but the grudge match between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler is reportedly also slated for the blockbuster card.

In addition, the timing makes sense for new light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka to rematch Glover Teixeira on the same card, while rising featherweight star Paddy Pimblett could be given some more airtime as well.

Either way, UFC 281 is shaping up to be a blockbuster event...

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