NEW YORK — Alex Pereira was Israel Adesanya’s number one in kickboxing. He also has it in MMA.
Pereira, who is the only man to have ever knocked out Adesanya, defeated him via TKO at 2:01, 1 second in the fifth round of UFC 281 Madison Square Garden’s main event. Pereira won the UFC Middleweight title with this win in his fourth fight. Since 2019, Adesanya was the champion.
Adesanya was winning the fight up to the end. Pereira landed a barrage punches and Adesanya was left with a broken jaw. After a series of right hooks and left hooks, Marc Goddard intervened to stop the fight. However, Adesanya was not dropped.
Pereira stated that his mentor Glover Teixeira and his UFC light-heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira “kept it real” in his corner prior to the fifth round.
“I said, “Do I have to knock him off?” Pereira spoke through an interpreter. “Glover said that you must knock him out. I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.'”
Adesanya and Pereira fought in kickboxing twice before, with Pereira winning both of them. The most recent knockout was by Adesanya in 2017.
Adesanya stated, “It’s another wonderful story for him. But it’s still not over.” “This is still war.”
Coming in, ESPN had Adesanya ranked No. Adesanya was ranked No. 2 on ESPN’s pound-for–pound list of the best MMA fighters. At middleweight, Adesanya was No. Pereira was ranked No. 7.
Adesanya was ahead by 39 to 37 in the fifth round. Adesanya won every round except the first. Similar circumstances were seen in the second kickboxing match. Adesanya won the first two rounds and Pereira lost the third.
“F—ing crazy, isn’t it?” Adesanya said. “Similar to last time — same story.”
Adesanya rocked Pereira in the final round of Saturday’s first round. A bell saved Pereira from a wobbly end. Pereira returned strong in round two with his trademark left hooks. Pereira was defeated in the fourth round by Adesanya, who also used his signature left hooks to stop him. Adesanya even managed to do some grappling and wrestling to win the third.
Adesanya stumbled in the fifth and then rolled backwards after a leg kick exchange. In the postfight conference, he stated that Pereira had landed a kick on the peroneal nerve in his right leg. This can cause numbness.
Adesanya stated, “That’s why I had difficulty with my footwork.” It was my leg. My leg fell off. Kudos to him. He did a great job investing in the [calf kicks]
Pereira (7-1), knocked out Sean Strickland during the first round of UFC 276 in July. To earn the title shot, Pereira. Brazilian slugger Pereira has six KO/TKOs from seven career MMA wins and is 4-0 in UFC. Pereira, 35, was a Glory Kickboxing light heavyweight and middleweight champion.
Pereira stated, “So many years worth of hard work and dedication and here I am champion of the globe.”
Adesanya (23-2), who had won three straight fights, was undefeated at the middleweight weight when he entered this bout. His only loss in his career was against Jan Blachowicz, who was light heavyweight champion. After beating Robert Whittaker, the Nigerian-born New Zealander had five successful defenses of his middleweight title. He earned the belt in October 2019. Adesanya was 33 and coming off a unanimous win over Jared Cannonier in UFC 276.
UFC President Dana White stated that he would not rule out an immediate rematch with Pereira and Adesanya. Adesanya confirmed that he is expecting it.
White said that Adesanya was a “great champion for us.” He loves to fight every day. He doesn’t say no. He will fight anyone. These are great guys to have. He’s also a great person.”