NEW YORK — Alex Pereira is as good as Israel Adesanya in kickboxing. He also has it in mixed martial arts.
Pereira is the only man to have knocked out Adesanya, stopping again with a TKO at 2:1 of the fifth and final round of Saturday night’s UFC 281 main event at Madison Square Garden. he. With the win, Pereira won the UFC middleweight title in his fourth fight of the promotion. Adesanya has been champion since 2019.
Adesanya kept winning until the final scene, when Pereira unleashed a barrage of punches and Adesanya slammed into the cage and was injured. Referee Mark Goddard stepped in to stop it after a flurry of left hooks and right hands.
Adesanya leads 39-37 on all three judges’ scorecards going into the fifth round.
The pair have previously fought twice in taekwondo, with Pereira winning both times, most recently knocking out Adesanya in 2017.
ESPN ranked Adesanya No. 1 when it came in. 2 on its pound-for-pound list of the best MMA fighters. At middleweight, Adesanya is number one. 1, Pereira ranked first. 7.
Pereira (7-1) defeated Sean Strickland in a first-round fight at UFC 276 in July for the title. The Brazilian slugger has six knockouts/TKOs in seven career mixed martial arts fights and is 4-0 in the UFC. Pereira, 35, is a former Glory Kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight champion.
Adesanya (23-2) has won three straight and is undefeated at middleweight this bout. Before that, his only career loss was a light heavyweight title fight with Jan Blachowicz last year. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident successfully defended his five-time middleweight title after defeating Robert Whittaker for the middleweight belt in October 2019. Adesanya, 33, defeated Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision at UFC 276 in July.