Israel Adesanya has congratulated Alex Pereira after he won his UFC debut in style on Saturday night.
Pereira (4-1) paid homage to his kickboxing roots as he stopped Andreas Michailidis in the second round with a beautiful flying knee at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The man known as ‘Po Atan’ made a name for himself in GLORY but has finally made the move to UFC and has made an instant splash at 185 pounds.
It is the latest of several fantastic wins in Pereira’s impressive highlight reel, which also includes knockout wins over the likes of Adesanya, Ertugrul Bayrak and Dustin Jacoby during his esteemed kickboxing career.
Adesanya may not have actually been at the event, but he was still keeping a watchful eye on his former opponent, as he personally congratulated Pereira after the fight.
“It’s pretty much like me and (Derek) Brunson – he’s trying to find a way (to take him down) cause he’s scared of the striking,” Adesanya, 32, said on his YouTube channel.
“’Cause you know he’s going to shoot, well-timed knee just straight up.
“Bang. There it is. I thought he was going to do it when he shot in, but I didn’t think he was going to fly at him.”
The jury is still out on the Brazilian, but at the very least, Pereira represents flesh blood, and given his history with Adesanya, it is surely only a matter of time before they meet again in the future.
Pereira, 34, has twice boxed Adesanya, beating him the first time by decision before knocking him out in their rematch a year later in March 2017.
But Adesanya believes he can beat Pereira next time, as he insists that he has evolved as a fighter since that fateful night.
“We talked about this like two days ago,” he revealed.
“We need something new. Especially after you lap the division again. Good job Pereira, that was nice.
“One thing I notice is everyone always holds on to that win he has over me like it’s the be all end all. I hope he does well. I hope he does well through the ranks.
“In the next four fights, I hope to see him. They’ll show you the knockout, but they won’t show you what happened before the finish.
“I hurt him, but I only throw [hands] because I was infiltrated by other people’s thoughts. But that was when I was younger.
“Not anymore. It’s different now. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”