Israel Adesanya knows better than most how difficult it is to move up a division for a meeting with Jan Blachowicz.
In March 2021, Adesanya temporarily left the 185-pound division he had conquered to make a move to light heavyweight to challenge the Pole, who was then the titleholder at 205-pounds. At that point in their respective careers, Adesanya was an unbeaten, 20-0 fighter while Blachowicz had six months prior claimed the light heavyweight title vacated by Jon Jones with a second-round finish of Dominick Reyes.
But despite Adesanya being the bookmakers’ pick to triumph on that eerily quiet night inside the UFC Apex facility outside Las Vegas, it was Blachowicz who claimed a clear-cut unanimous decision win, employing a strategy which saw him take the Adesanya to the canvas on several occasions and showcase his oppressive top control.
And speaking on his YouTube channel this week, Adesanya thinks that Blachowicz can do the same to Alex Pereira when the two former world champions fight in what is the Brazilian’s UFC light heavyweight debut on July 29 in Salt Lake City.
“I think Jan is gonna take him down and just beat him up there,” Adesanya said, as noted by MMA Junkie. “Jan will stand with him for a bit but eventually just get him to the fence or try to take him down the way he took me down. I don’t think he’s gonna shoot, so he’s either gonna get him to the fence.
“It wasn’t frustrating at the time because I was still catching him sometimes, but also it’s respect,” Adesanya added of his fight with Blachowicz. “I thought he was gonna come and fight the way he normally fights, but he did that at the right times and took me down. So, yeah, he could get caught coming in. It depends. What if he gets him down and keeps him down? I don’t know, we’ll have to see.”
UFC 291 is expected to be headlined by a lightweight rematch between Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier.