In the Clinch: Is Adesanya's Legacy on the Line? UFC 281In the Clinch: Is Adesanya’s Legacy on the Line? UFC 281 The moment of truth is almost at hand for middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-1-0), 33, at UFC 281.

The man who supplanted Anderson Silva as the dominant figure in recent division history finally meets his match in former kickboxing nemesis and No. 4 Alex Pereira (6-1-0), 35 Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

As many fans keeping score know, Pereira has a KO finish and decision win over Adesanya in two previous kickboxing bouts and is expected to give Adesanya his toughest challenge in the octagon.

Pereira has been elevated to the title shot primarily on the strength of his record against Adesanya. When you look at the state of the middleweight division, it’s probably justified as Adesanya cleaned it out long ago. For the record, Pereira is undefeated in three fights in the octagon and took out Sean Strickland in his last bout.

It’s important to remember that it is an MMA bout and not kickboxing. Adesanya has the experience advantage having faced the best of the division. He seems to be at the right level of confidence in interviews while acknowledging the bragging rights Pereira has earned against him.

In the Clinch: Is Adesanya's Legacy on the Line? UFC 281Pereira has rightfully played up his success against Adesanya and is letting the pressure ramp up on the champion. He is being smart in the preamble, which only adds to what will be a defining moment for Adesanya.

The Spider had his legacy moment when the brash Chael Sonnen whipped him for four rounds and change before magically submitting him at UFC 117. Then again, he schooled Sonnen in the rematch at UFC 148.

Adesanya needs nothing less than a spectacular victory over Pereira to put the big cherry on his dominant middleweight run. I think he has something up his sleeve. Pereira will likely be expecting some adjustments. Let’s hope there are no surprises at the weigh-ins.

This one is personal.

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Israel Adesanya

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Israel Adesanya

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