Who could end Adesanya’s reign at Middleweight?

The current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion is Israel Adesanya. The Nigerian born New Zealand fighter has 21 wins and only one defeat so far in his career and is showing no signs of slowing down.

His rise has been rapid; a dynamic striker and an entertaining personality has put him on the path to greatness and a regular favorite in the UFC odds. He is a fighter that fans want to see, that fans support and who puts on a show in the octagon with his devastating fighting style.

Adesanya debuted in UFC in February 2018 but had been a professional fighter for more than six years already. HIs performances and personality prior to 2018 is what caught the eye of UFC who looked to offer him the chance to compete.

He has competed in boxing, kickboxing and MMA prior to entering UFC and had an impressive 43 wins, six defeats and one draw in that time across each discipline.

UFC 221 was his debut fight against Rob Wilkinson who he defeated in the second round so comprehensively that he won the  Performance of the Night bonus. By UFC 230, Adesanya was already a main feature for the event and had a challenging test against Derek Brunson, though Adesanya defeated him in the first round.

By April 2019, at UFC 236, Adesanya became the interim Middleweight Champion, defeating Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision. He then went on to face Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October 2019 in a title unification bout. After being knocked down in the last second of the first round, he rallied to knockout his opponent in the second round.

In 2021 he suffered his only defeat, to Jan Blachowicz by a unanimous decision, but has since won his previous three fights. His next one is scheduled for November 2022 where he will fight Alex Pereira who is amongst those looking to challenge Adesanya for his crown.

Alex Pereira

The two fighters will face off at UFC 281 in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Brazilian is a former kickboxing champion where he was the Glory Middleweight and Lightweight champion. He is currently ranked fifth in the UFC Middleweight rankings.

Pereira defeated Adesanya twice in the kickboxing ring but this will be the first time the two of them come up against each other in UFC.

In his last UFC bout, Pereira had a huge win over Sean Strickland via knockout less than three minutes into the contest.

His confidence and history over Adesanya could be what leads him to victory in November this year.

Jared Cannonier

He is the highest ranked middleweight contender to never face Adesanya which could make him the next challenger should Adesanya get the victory over Pereira.

Cannonier dropped to 185 pounds in 2018 to compete in the middleweight division and has been incredibly impressive in his bouts since, notably against David Branch and Kelvin Gastelum.

Nicknamed the “King Gorilla”, Cannonier has only ever lost one fight as a middleweight back in 2020 to Robert Whittaker.

He has the punching power to really threaten Adesanya, though the current champions will feel he has a stronger all-round ability than Cannonier to secure a win.

Sean Strickland

Considered somewhat of an outside bet to get the chance to come up against Ademaya, Strickland is in better form than some others like Darren Till and Paulo Costa.

“Tarzan” is ranked seventh in the middleweight division and on one of his best runs of form as a professional fighter. His last defeat came way back in 2018 and since being 185 pounds he has won five from five including wins over Nordine Taleb and Brendan Allen.

Strickland is becoming more outspoken and controversial which the UFC could see as being very marketable; his confidence will be high if he gets the chance to face Adesanya.

Jack Hermansson

“The Joker” is a Swedish-born Norwegian fighter with 23 wins from 30 MMA fights as a professional. He entered the UFC in 2016 winning his first fight by unanimous decision over Scott Askham at UFC 93.

His most recent fight was a victory over Chris Curtis by unanimous decision, though he has lost three of his last six bouts in UFC.

This patchy run of form may play against him in looking for a chance to take on the champion. He will need to get back to consistent, winning ways before getting his shot.

Darren Till

The English fighter comes from Liverpool and the 29-year-old started in UFC back in 2015. He joined as a welterweight but moved to middleweight in 2019. He won his first fight in this division via a split decision against Kelvin Gastelum.

Having lost four of his last five fights will once again make him an outside bet to get the chance to go up against Adesanya and he will need to prove himself once again.

Pereira has the first shot, and should he not be successful there will be a number of others looking to take their shot to dethrone “The Last Stylebender”, though this is much easier said than done.

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