To hear Israel Adesanya tell it, Alex Pereira should be grateful to be competing for the UFC middleweight championship, thethat will be held Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Adesanya does not believe that Pereira has earned a UFC middleweight title shot after just three fights inside the Octagon. It took Pereira 371 days to attain the status of title challenger, eclipsing the time it took Adesanya to achieve the feat and in fewer fights. Adesanya credits his shared history with Pereira in the kickboxing world and Adesanya's success against other challengers for Pereira's expedited rise.
"What have you done to earn the spot? I still don't think he's earned the spot, but I welcome it because he's fresh at this. I want to welcome him and I want to expose him at this," Adesanya told Luke Thomas for "Morning Kombat" on Tuesday. "If he had the run that I had, if he had to go through people that I went through, he would have been exposed three fights ago. He would have beaten some of those guys, definitely, but he would have been exposed along the way.
"I cleared the way for him because I cleared the division. It was a clear path right to me."
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Adesanya went from UFC debutant to an interim middleweight title fight with Kelvin Gastelum in 426 days, and from debut to undisputed world title fight in 519 days. That run -- which boasted an impressive five fights in 366 days -- saw him defeat Whittaker, Gastelum, Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares, Marvin Vettori and Rob Wilkinson.
Pereira's rapid rise to challenger status means that his UFC hitlist does not yet measure to Adesanya's, having only defeated Sean Strickland, Bruno Silva and Andreas Michailidis in his three UFC appearances.
"I had a more impressive run," Adesanya said. "Let's put it that way."
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