Alex Pereira fought his kickboxing nemesis Israel Adesanya in the main event of UFC 281 at the Mecca of Fighting, Madison Square Garden. Adesanya outstruck Pereira for most of the fight and even took the Brazilian down in the third round.
Although seemingly exhausted, Pereira came into his own in the final round and picked up a TKO win over the champion for the second time in his career, becoming the new middleweight champion.
The fight started off evenly with both fighters testing their reach and using leg kicks and feints. 'The Last Stylebender,' however, closed out the first round in style with a jab and a right hook that stunned the Brazilian, who was saved by the bell. The second round saw Alex Pereira making a comeback as the former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion began landing kicks and punches.
Take a look at the end of the first round:
Alex Pereira began to build some momentum and Adesanya could sense it. In the third round, 'The Last Stylebender' executed the first takedown of his UFC career. He spent a lot of time in top control, using the Brazilian's wrists effectively to pin him to the ground and punish him with some ground-and-pound strikes. After an impressive third round, the Nigerian-born Kiwi took the momentum into the 4th round.
Israel Adesanya looked like he was on his way to a decision victory over Alex Pereira. However, in the fifth and final round, after heeding Glover Teixeira's advice, 'Poatan' went after the champion and unleashed a flurry of punches that knocked Adesanya out on his feet.
Take a look at the final sequence of the fight:
Alex Pereira believes it was written that he would become champion but apologizes for the trash talk
Alex Pereira was gracious in victory as he apologized to Israel Adesanya for the trash talk on social media. He confessed that he had to get into his opponent's head to win the game. However, he also believed it was written that he would become champion. Here's what he had to say in his Octagon interview with Joe Rogan:
"I feel so good, been training all my life, worked so hard for this it was written. I'm sorry to everybody that I had to post some stuff, do a little bit of trash talk this time but it was healthy and I had to get into his head to get on this fight."
Israel Adesanya will now eye an immediate rematch against Alex Pereira, who is now the undisputed UFC middleweight champion in just his fourth fight in the UFC. For now, Pereira will celebrate his win with his friends and family as he enjoys his newly earned status as champion.
Take a look at the interview: