Nigeria’s Israel Adesanya suffered another defeat to his arch-nemesis, Alex Pereira, as they jostled for the Middleweight championship title at UFC 281. The Brazilian fighter secured a technical knockout win over his Nigerian opponent at the historic Madison Square Garden.
With compatriot Kamaru Usman having lost his own title only a few months ago at UFC 278, Adesanya was determined to keep hold of his. Facing him at UFC 281, however, was a man who had defeated him twice in his time as a kickboxer.
Both men started the fight on an equal footing and Adesanya began to show his experience and improvement as he looked to control the fight. The reigning champion almost ended the fight in the first round after a flurry of punches stunned Pereira, who was saved by the bell at the end of the round.
Both men continued to trade blows as the fight was heating up but despite Adesanya’s apparent improvement, Pereira managed to stay in his face. Although tiring, the Brazilian fighter stayed in the fight. By the end of the fourth round, Adesanya was cruising to a win as Pereira could hardly land meaningful shots.
The fight was turned on its head in the final round. Sensing that he was behind on the scoreboard, Pereira went for the jugular and went after a knockout. Two minutes into the fifth round, he managed to pin Adesanya to the cage, landing a number of shots to the head including an uppercut that left the Nigerian dazed. The referee intervened and stopped the fight, announcing Pereira as the champion by a technical knockout.
Canadian rap star Drake lost money on the fight as he had bet two million Canadian dollars that Adesanya would defeat Pereira at UFC 281. Pereira has now become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world in the UFC.