Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya’s rivalry goes back to their kickboxing days, and their battle in the UFC Octagon on Saturday night added another chapter to their long-standing feud.
Pereira and Adesanya battled to the fifth round of the main event at UFC 281 in New York City, and it was the Brazilian who stunned the champion to win the UFC middleweight title. Pereira defeated Adesanya via technical knockout as he was able to capitalize on a few big punches.
“For everybody that said I couldn’t do five rounds, look at what I did just now,” Pereira said through a translator for the crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Pereira hit Adesanya with a vicious right hook that sent the champion back into the cage. Pereira went on the offensive from there. Both men had used most of their energy in the second and third rounds as they tried to gain advantages using their ground game.
“I feel so blessed,” he added, via MMA Fighting. “I worked so hard for this. Sorry to everybody that I had to post some stuff, I had to do a little bit of trash talk this time. But I had to get in his head to get this fight.”
The fight featured an A-list sold-out crowd with plenty of big names in the audience, including Mike Tyson, Sylvester Stallone, Jared Leto and Miles Teller.
It’s Pereira’s third straight win over Adesanya in his career. And even with the Brazilian’s dominance, UFC president Dana White suggested there could be a rematch.
“(Adesanya) wanted this fight,” he said, via MMA Junkie. “A lot of people talk publicly and it’s a whole different story behind the scenes. That guy is an absolute stud. He always wants to stay active.
“In a fight that most guys would stall, ‘Give me more time. Give me this, that,’ he dove right into this fight. His only loss was when he tried to move up in weight to 205. You’ve got to respect him as champ and what he’s done…. I wouldn’t rule (an immediate rematch) out.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.