The Ballad Of Frank The White Belt
Thinking about the upcoming fights, wondering how does Izzy win this time, I remembered when I started jiu jitsu training. The most fun I had was finding people around my same skill level and trying new techniques. The upper belts were too hard, and people too new were uncomfortable and would freeze up. Then there was Frank.
Frank started about four months before I did. He was about five inches shorter than me, but the same weight, and he had my number. No matter what technique I would try to surprise him with, he had the counter. Several in house tournaments were me and him moving through the brackets, only for me to get silver.
As I got better and progressed through the belts, Frank would always get the best of me. At one point, I switched gyms (not because of Frank) and found out he had been going to my new gym for months already. I couldn’t escape this guy and I couldn’t beat this guy.
The Unending Rivalry
I know what it’s like to always have a rival out there that inexplicably “eats my lunch”. I think everybody who trains has had this kind of rivalry with someone at sometime. Israel Adesanya just happens to have this rivalry with the scariest dude on the face of the planet. Alex Pereira is scary even when smiling. He’s the only dude that can wear a pikachu jacket and still be intimidating. After their first fight, the memes were out of control. More importantly, he’s the only man on the planet at 185 that can get over on “Izzy”.
Israel has struggled against larger opponents. Izzy’s long reach advantage is one of the main keys to his almost flawless style. He can establish an accurate outside game and use feints and jabs to set up his harder shots. Izzy uses lateral movement and varied primary strikes to freeze his opponents, but this is much harder to do if your opponent can still hit you at the end of your range.
Israel has had lots of success doing this against Pereira. He has won most of the rounds he has fought against “Poatan”, but there is a point where Alex recovers and starts throwing hammers back at Izzy. Pereira did a version of this against Sean Strickland, an admittedly slower and easier to trick fighter than Adesanya. Whenever Sean would step into the pocket to work his jab, Alex would throw his left hand against Strickland’s shoulder until BANG! Strickland dropped his hand and Alex dropped Sean with a big right hand.
The Inevitable Moment
It would appear that there is a moment in every fight where Alex Pereira stops enjoying the fight and decides to end it. It’s almost as if he remembers that he left the stove on and has to get out of the octagon. He could be winning. He could be losing. Whatever is going on, Alex decides that it has been enough and lead hooks his opponent into the shadow realm.
Izzy has seen this coming multiple times. In their last fight, it was a low calf kick that deadened Adesanya’s right leg and let him get trapped against the cage. There was some debate about the stoppage, as Israel was still breathing without a ventilator when the ref called it. I think it was good. There was only one way that was going, and I’m okay with the fight ending in not a murder.
Image – MMA Fighting
At this point, Israel is 0-3 against Alex Pereira. If Israel wants to win, the onus to change is on him. For Alex to win, he just has to keep doing Alex things. It won’t be enough for Izzy to stay the course and hope to make it out of the fifth round. My theory is this; for Izzy to take his belt back he is going to have to do something completely out of character. Adesanya might have to bend his own style to take down this tiger.
Image – MMA Fighting
I foresee a body lock coming into play. Since the reach advantage is negligible, Israel has to be smarter about getting into the pocket. With a body lock, Izzy can avoid that big left hook and shove Alex against the cage. Grinding him out could be the way to stifle Pereira’s power and keep the later rounds safe. I wouldn’t place the entire crux of the fight on a body lock, though.
Israel could benefit from getting more aggressive with his entries. He had real success with this at the end of the first round in UFC 281. He landed a clean shot and given enough time could have finished the fight. Instead of relying on his usual accurate counters, Izzy might enter the pocket first and really bring it to Alex. This would also wear on his gas tank and may make him more vulnerable in later rounds.
It’s foolish to think that a sophisticated fighter like Pereira isn’t going to make his own adjustments. He could shore his defenses and rely more on his counters to find his shots. Either way, this fight is going to be ridiculous. I can’t wait to watch UFC 287. Bless Miami!
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