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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and his Brazilian nemesis Alex Pereira shared an intense face-off at the Madison Square Garden ahead of their UFC 281 title fight in the early hours of Sunday.

The former kick-boxers will meet for the third time in their professional history this weekend, having fought twice in the kick-boxing ring before Adesanya moved full-time into MMA, where he is considered a potential all-time great after a dominant run at middleweight.

Pereira has just seven professional MMA fights to his name but has raced to title contention with three quick-fire wins in the UFC.

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Fans were out in force to support Adesanya at Madison Square Garden, raining down boos as Pereira attempted to answer media questions through a translator. But the key moment was after the talking was done and the pair came head-to-head, with Adesanya sizing up his rival for the first time since their 2017 Glory bout.

Adesanya maintains that he won their first meeting and that he was dominating their second one before he was knocked out. However, he still holds two losses to his rival, and given the Brazilian’s considerable size there is a belief among some fans that he can defy the bookies odds and land another victory to dethrone the long-reigning champion.

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