Alex Pereira secures fifth round comeback TKO over Israel Adesanya to win middleweight title at UFC 281

Alex Pereira secures fifth round comeback TKO over Israel Adesanya to win middleweight title at UFC 281

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to us tonight, November 12, 2022, for perhaps the biggest event they’ve hosted this year in UFC 281, as the sport of MMA turned 29 years young today.

Hosting two title fights and a number of other stellar match ups, this was certainly a card to remember.

Headlining UFC 281 was the third fight between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 75-5-1 kickboxing) and no. 4 ranked Alex Pereira (6-1 MMA, 33-7 kickboxing).

Both being former kickboxing champions, Pereira went 2-0 against Adesanya in that sport, winning the first encounter via unanimous decision in a very closely contested bout, while their second saw Pereira land that vicious left hook of his, KO’ing Adesanya on the spot in round three.

Since then, Adesanya has achieved greatness inside the octagon, winning, and defending the UFC middleweight championship five times, while Pereira had gone 4-0 since returning to MMA competition in 2020. Three of those wins came inside the UFC in one years time, debuting for the promotion on November 6 of last year.

Did our Nigerian-Kiwi champion make the sixth defense of his throne, or did the Brazilian challenger, like Adesanya, become a two-sport world champion? Continue reading to see how this epic championship main event went down:

Official Result: Alex Pereira def. Israel Adesanya via TKO (punches) at 2:01 of round five

Pereira opens up the bout with a jumping front kick that came very close to the face of the champion. Pereira is is noticeably the bigger of the two, and that weight is carrying into his heavy leg kicks.

Adesanya is returning with some nice leg kicks of his own. He also lands a nice right hand that backs Pereira up momentarily.

Pereira begins to pressure Adesanya backward and gets tied up, but Pereira lands some vicious hooks to the body in the clinch, as well as a heavy knee to the body before they separate. Adesanya stuns Pereira badly with a hard right hand at the very end of the round followed by a left hook that wobbled the Brazilian even worse.

Two more seconds in that round and the fight would’ve been over right there.

It appears Pereira recovered well between rounds and he’s back to pressuring the champion, though Adesanya is still landing often. Pereira begins to land his piston of a jab in the second, and he tees of on him at a point, but ends up being tied up again.

Adesanya ends up attempting two takedowns whilst in the clinch, both unsuccessfully, and Pereira secures a single leg takedown he turned into a double leg at the very end of the round.

Two minutes into the third and Adesanya attempts another takedown; Pereira tries to counter it with a hip toss, but ends up on his back in the exchange, the first takedown of Adesanya’s career. Adesanya is able to pretty much maul Pereira for the remainder of the round, much of which he spends on the back with one hook in.

Pereira is trying to get up but is unable to up along the fence, so he rolls for a kneebar and ends up on his back again to end the third.

Adesanya begins to really pick Pereira apart in the fourth, as Pereira starts to fatigue. He’s landing that jab-right hand combo a lot in this round. Pereira has tried for that vicious left hook of his all night, but he’s unable to more than glance the champion with it.

Pereira comes out with some urgency in the fifth and final round and he really starts to pressure the champion.

Adesanya tied up with him a couple times, but Pereira is able to separate and land a nasty combination starting with his heavy right cross, followed by a left hook and a number of other punches to finish the no. 2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

Some could say the stoppage was early considering Adesanya was still standing when the fight was stopped, but others could say it was justified. He wasn’t even looking at Pereira at the point it was stopped and it was only getting worse for him.

To be up 3-1 going into the fifth, then to get stopped in the fifth and final round, falling 0-3 to the new champion, this is going to be a tough one for Israel Adesanya to swallow.

Congratulations to our new UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira. We never see talents with seven fights fight for, and win UFC championships against greats.

This was a truly legendary event; 11 finishes (last eight-straight) in 14 fights.

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