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The End of UFC Rivalry? Alex Pereira Seeks Training Partnership with Israel Adesanya

The rivalry between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya is legendary in the world of combat sports. It’s a story that transcends two weight classes, two promotions, and years of intense competition. They’ve traded heavy leather in the kickboxing ring and battled it out inside the UFC Octagon, and their names will forever be intertwined. But what if their next chapter wasn’t another fight but a collaboration?

Pereira, the current UFC light heavyweight champion, has surprisingly opened the door to the possibility of training alongside his former foe. This isn’t just a sign of sportsmanship; it’s a testament to the unique bond forged in the crucible of competition.

A History of Rivalry and Respect

sandhumma | Instagram | Pereira initially bested Adesanya twice in kickboxing before their rivalry shifted to mixed martial arts.

Instagram | sandhumma | Pereira initially bested Adesanya twice in kickboxing before their rivalry shifted to mixed martial arts.

Their story began in the world of kickboxing, where Pereira emerged victorious in two separate encounters. He then followed Adesanya to the UFC, setting his sights on the middleweight title his rival held. In a dramatic twist, Pereira dethroned Adesanya in November 2022, claiming the championship belt. However, Adesanya reclaimed his title in their rematch just months later, only to lose it again, this time to Sean Strickland.

Pereira, now holding the light heavyweight title, offered Adesanya a chance to challenge him. When Adesanya declined, Pereira shifted his focus to defending his belt against Jamahal Hill at UFC 300. But amidst this ongoing saga, Pereira revealed a surprising sentiment: he wouldn’t be opposed to training alongside Adesanya – under one crucial condition.

A Sign of Growth and Evolution?

“It’s not out of the question,” Pereira said in a recent interview. “He’s a very experienced fighter, and I respect what he’s accomplished. We both have a lot to offer each other, with similar yet distinct styles. But the key is, this collaboration can only happen if we’re absolutely certain there’s no chance of us fighting again.”

Instagram | alexpoatanpereira | Pereira understands the intensity of rivalry but sees the importance of closure.

This willingness to train with a former rival showcases Pereira’s growth as a fighter and a person. It demonstrates an understanding that competition doesn’t have to define a relationship and valuable lessons can be learned even from those we’ve faced across the Octagon. It’s a sentiment echoed by Pereira’s past actions. He previously trained with Sean Strickland after knocking him out, and another former rival, Yousri Belgaroui, has even cornered him for multiple fights.

Pereira acknowledges the intensity that fuels a rivalry but also recognizes the need for closure. “There’s a fire that burns when you’re competing against someone at the same level,” he said. “But that fire needs to die down once the competition is over.”

He expressed his genuine desire for a final showdown with Adesanya, highlighting the risks he himself took to make it happen. “I truly wanted that trilogy fight,” Pereira said. “I put everything on the line, coming to the UFC and taking those fights to earn a shot at the belt. But Adesanya didn’t show any interest, so I had to move on.”

Collaboration or Continued Rivalry?

Endsmmapack | Instagram | Pereira: Rivalry emerges when pursuing the same goal.

Endsmmapack | Instagram | Will Pereira and Adesanya will share a training gym?

Whether Pereira and Adesanya will ever share the training gym remains to be seen. It hinges on a mutual understanding that their competitive chapter is closed.

Regardless of their future path, their story serves as a reminder that respect and collaboration can bloom even in the most heated rivalries. It’s a testament to the transformative power of competition and the shared pursuit of excellence that binds fighters together, even beyond the final bell.

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