That’s UFC champion Israel Adesanya, who joined Babcock on the TMZ Sports TV show (airs weekdays on FS1) … making it crystal clear he wants to do a lot more than simply defeat his rival Alex Pereira when the two striking savants battle inside the Octagon at UFC 281 in NYC.
“I want to be the first person he sees when he wakes up. I want to make sure I’m right in his line of sight so he’s looking at me,” the 33-year-old MMA superstar said.
Of course, Adesanya and Pereira are headlining the November 12th card — with two title fights and a Michael Chandler–Dustin Poirier matchup — which will go down inside Madison Square Garden.
Israel and Alex fought twice previously and Pereira won both times … in 2016 (decision) and 2017 (knockout), but they were kickboxing, NOT MMA (overall, Izzy had a kickboxing record of 75-5, while Alex was 33-7.)
We asked Adesanya, who last fought and beat Jared Cannonier in July, if people were making too big a deal over the previous fights.
“100%, even though the way you defend is different, the way you attack is different. It’s kinda stupid sometimes. No disrespect to kickboxing,” Izzy said.
“I always felt my striking was better suited for MMA, for the glove size but also the way, the freeness of attacking, I can clinch someone and trip ’em down. I can elbow, things like that and I know he’s good at stuff like that as well but I’ve been doing this a lot longer.”
The reality is … Adesanya rarely lost kickboxing, but he’s never lost in his division in the UFC (sole L came against Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight).
Despite it being a much different discipline, Izzy says he did rewatch the fights.
“I’ve looked back at them and I’ve taken a few things away from them but it is a different fight. I’m not the same guy, he’s not the same guy either, but again, I’ve been doing this a lot longer and people forget,” Adesanya said.
“For me, I have reminded them. I always do when it’s time. I remind people and show them how great I am. This is just another one of those times I have to do it.”
The fight goes down Saturday … inside the “world’s most famous arena.”