Adesanya Eyes Dangerous Rematch

The problem with being the best at what you do is that you constantly need to find the motivation from somewhere to remain at the top of the tree.

For Israel Adesanya, it would be safe to say he has "completed" the UFC's middleweight division after stringing together 12 straight wins at 185lb - six as champion.

His latest title defense against Jared Cannonier was wholly unspectacular, and for one good reason — the challenger was simply unable to lay a glove on Adesanya, whose superior technique and movement guided him to a routine win on points.

The Last Stylebender has now defeated three of the four highest-ranked middleweights in the UFC, with Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori — the second and third best in the division according to the standings — both as unable as Cannonier to test Adesanya and push him into deep waters.

With no middleweight really able to challenge Adesanya, the question is where does the 32-year-old go from here?

Heavy Metal

A step up to 205 lb. and the light-heavyweight division is one possibility. Standing 6 ft, 4 in tall and with an 80 cm reach, the Nigerian-Kiwi has always been a gangly presence at middleweight, and he will surely be well served in seeing if he can add bulk to his frame without losing any of his trademark speed and agility.

Adesanya has the physical dimensions to be a success at 205 lb, but whether he has the power to become a light-heavyweight great is another matter entirely. Remember, he has only won one of his last five encounters at 185 lb by TKO, with the implication being that he lacks the firepower to win "easy" — that would be exacerbated further amongst the light heavies.

Of course, Adesanya has already made his debut in the heftier class. He stepped up to take on Jan Blachowicz in March 2021 as part of a quest to become a two-weight UFC champion, but he was unable to really hurt the Pole, who would prevail by a comfortable margin on the judges' cards.

Blachowicz has since been usurped as the light-heavyweight king by Jiri Prochazka, who impressed those in attendance when downing the wily veteran Glover Teixeira in their title showdown.

Adesanya may have Prochazka in his crosshairs, although a preparatory fight at 205 lb — perhaps against the winner of the Magomed Ankalaev and Anthony Smith contest on July 30 might be a smarter starting point. The Russian, unbeaten in eight outings, is the favorite in the MMA betting odds at around -435, and he would represent a tricky — but eye-catching opponent — for The Last Stylebender.

That is, of course, if he can find a way past his next predicted opponent at middleweight.

Scars of Battle

Only defeated once in MMA, Adesanya's background is actually in kickboxing, where he won a staggering 75 of 80 bouts fought. He went unbeaten for the best part of two years to confirm his dominance — until, that is, he ran into a Brazilian who became his only real tormentor in combat sports.

Alex Pereira beat Adesanya twice in the space of a year in kickboxing — the second win coming via a crunching left hook which left the future UFC champion needing oxygen.

The Brazilian has since forged a career of his own in MMA and is unbeaten in three starts in the UFC - twice winning Performance of the Night honors, with the latter coming courtesy of a first-round KO of number seven ranked Sean Strickland earlier in July.

Adesanya has revealed he is keen to take on Pereira in a trilogy fight inside the Octagon, telling a press conference "we know who's next" following his victory over Cannonier.

They say that you should be careful what you wish for ... will Adesanya head off to light heavyweight with the Pereira doubts off his mind?

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