His critics believe Adesanya fought a safe fight and that he could have been more aggressive. Part of the criticism directed toward “The Last Stylebender” had to do with how he potentially overhypes what’s going to happen. Simply, his critics don’t believe Adesanya’s performance lived up to his pre-fight banter.
UFC president Dana White was asked about Adesanya’s win over Cannonier during the UFC Long Island Post-fight Press Conference following Saturday’s event. White placed part of the blame for the largely uneventful UFC 276 main event on Cannonier.
“He won. I don’t know if it was the performance that he wanted to give, or that he was selling heading into that fight,” White said about Adesanya’s UFC 276 title defense. “The other thing is, I don’t think his opponent was very aggressive either. It takes two to make a great fight.”
Adesanya’s style presents problems for every middleweight on the fight promotion’s roster. He’s elusive. He’s fast. He’s accurate with his striking and unpredictable. Sometimes opponents don’t engage with him resulting in fights where the champion can seemingly cruise to a win.
White thinks Adesanya’s next opponent will be more than willing to engage. Adesanya is expected to face familiar foe Alex Pereira later this year. The two fought twice in kickboxing with Pereira winning both times.
“It won’t happen (Adesanya’s opponent freezing up) in the next fight. When you’re sitting here in my position, you can’t give too many guarantees,” White said. “I f**king guarantee you. I absolutely, positively guarantee you that the next fight that Israel Adesanya fights will be absolutely batsh*t nuts.”
Adesanya and Pereira’s first kickboxing match in April 2016 went the distance with Pereira winning by unanimous decision. Many felt Adesanya won the fight. The rematch in March 2017 ended with Pereira knocking Adesanya out. Moments earlier, Pereira was being given a standing eight count by the referee.
Their trilogy bout won’t be in kickboxing, though.