Israel Adesanya’s coach doesn’t expect grappling in Alex Pereira fight | #students | #parents


Eugene Bareman doesn’t see grappling playing a factor in Israel Adesanya’s fight against Alex Pereira.

Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC), Bareman’s star student, puts his middleweight title on the line against Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 281 main event at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.

Both men come from a decorated kickboxing background. However, because Adesanya is the far more experienced MMA fighter, many wonder if he’ll decide to mix things up. Adesanya said at Wednesday’s media day he thinks Pereira may shoot for takedowns, but City Kickboxing head coach Bareman sees their fight playing out on the feet.

“The benefit of being so far ahead of the rest of the field in a particular skill set is you can concentrate your effort on another really narrow skill set,” Bareman told Submission Radio. “And what I’m meaning is, when Israel got into UFC, he was so good at standup. He could divert a lot of his time into his wall defense and wrestling defense because he already was very, very good at standup. Well, Alex essentially has the same issue. It’s not really an issue – it’s a positive thing, right? Alex is so far ahead of everybody else in this field at standup, he can concentrate all his efforts on things like takedown defense and wall defense and all of that.

“So you get this massive concentrated in effort that your other opponents aren’t able to do because they’ve got to spread their time more evenly. What it means is you become very good at one thing. So I just think that is the benefit of these elite, elite strikers coming into MMA, is that they can concentrate the effort on takedown defense. So I don’t think Israel’s going to have an easy time taking Pereira down, nor do I think if Pereira decides to switch the game plan – which would be smart from a standup battle to a takedown – nor do I think Pereira is going to have a very easy time getting Israel down. So the way I see it is, I think this will probably just be a standup battle.”

The narrative of the fight is that Pereira holds two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing which has helped fast track him to a title shot. Although Bareman thought Adesanya did well in both fights, he didn’t factor that in in their preparation.

“The first fight was close, but we felt Israel won that fight and was doing it relatively comfortably,” Bareman said. “And the second fight, he was winning very easily (until he got knocked out). We have to erase that, because the last thing that we can do is look at those fights and be like, ‘Wow – we were beating him relatively easy last time, so what do we have to do this time?’ But the fact of the matter is that those fights were a very long time ago.

“So what we’ve concentrated on is what improvements Alex has made since those two fights. And throughout our analysis, we’ve seen a lot of improvements since then. So when we put together this fight, we are completely erasing those fights – not because of Israel lost, because Israel dominated those fights. That’s why we have to erase them. And we have to account for the massive amount of improvement that Alex Pereira has made since those fights, and that’s what we’re basing everything on.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 281.



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