Alex Pereira is the only person to knock out Israel Adesanya and he has done it twice.
Pereira became the new UFC middleweight champion with a come-from-behind victory over Adesanya at UFC 281 on Saturday night inside Madison Square Garden.
This fight will be a bitter pill for Adesanya. As in his two kickboxing bouts, Adesanya was winning contests until he fell short. Adesanya nearly added to his seven first round stops at UFC 281, a one-two that got Pereira in all sorts of trouble. Adesanya’s devastating shot came in his final second of round one, but didn’t have the time needed to capitalize on it. Pereira’s corner panicked trying to straighten the fighter’s head.
Pereira recovered well in Round 2. It was a competitive, albeit unremarkable, round that probably favored the challenger. Adesanya scored the first takedown of his 14-fight UFC career in Round 3 and controlled Pereira decisively in the remaining rounds. Adesanya exhausted Pereira at the end of round 3 with pressure, ground and pound and a good ax kick.
Pereira struggled noticeably in Round 4 and his production was very limited. Adesanya was defensively sound and clearly attacked his opponents in his rounds. Pereira’s corner begged him to find a finish in round five, with Adesanya realizing that he likely had a 3–1 lead on the judges’ scorecards. UFC broadcasts confirmed after the fight that Adesanya was up on the scorecards of all three of his judges heading into the final frame.
Pereira answered the call, electrifying Adesanya and shaking him with a hard shot towards the fence. Adesanya desperately weaved Bob, but was hit with uppercuts and other big shots until the referee stepped in.
Pereira thanked his teammates for the win and told UFC commentator Joe Rogan through a translator that he had worked as hard in camp as he did in the fight. Pereira’s primary training partner, former UFC light heavyweight champion Grover Teixeira, later told commentators about a conversation he had with Pereira during the fourth and fifth rounds.
“‘Do I have to knock him out?'” Pereira asked Teixeira. “Better knock him out,” Teixeira replied.
Pereira (7-1) won the UFC Middleweight Championship in just his fourth UFC fight. Adesanya (23-2) has managed five title defenses as middleweight champion and has held the undisputed title since October 2019.
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CBS Sports was with you all Saturday, bringing you all the results and highlights from UFC 281 below.
UFC 281 cards and results
- Alex Pereira def. Israel Adesanya (c) 5th round TKO (punch)
- Weili Zhang def. Carla Esparza (c) Via second round submission (rear naked choke)
- Dustin Poirier diff.Michael Chandler Via 3rd submission (rear naked choke)
- Chris Gutierrez def. Frankie Edgar 1st Round Knockout (Knee)
- Dan Hooker diff. Claudio Puerez by second round knockout (body kick)
- Brad Liddell (rear naked choke) by Renato Moicano def. 1st round submission
- Ryan Spandev. Dominic Reyes In the first round knockout (punch)
- Erin Branchfield def. Molly McCann First Submission (Kimura)
- Andre Petrosky diff. Wellington Turman (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) by unanimous decision
- Matt Frevola diff.Ottoman Azaital In the first round knockout (punch)
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Silvana Gómez Juárez unanimously decided (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Defeat of Michael Trisano. Choi Seung Woo 1st Round TKO (Punch)
- Montell Jackson diff. Julio Arce unanimous (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Carlos Urberg Def. Nicolae Negmeleanu wins by first round TKO (punch)