Adesanya loses middleweight title to Pereira at UFC 281

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Israel Adesanya lost his middleweight championship via TKO against Alex Pereira moments ago at UFC 281 this evening.

It marks "The Last Stylebender's" first-ever loss in the middleweight division, having debuted in the same arena he fought back in 2018: Madison Square Garden in New York City.

After only having three UFC fights, Pereira's win marks his third victory over Adesanya in relation to two bouts won over him in kickboxing from years prior.

From the start, Adesanya chopped away at Pereira's 6-foot 4-inch frame with leg kicks. Trying to relive old wounds from their kickboxing encounters, Pereira tried to send left hooks to Israel’s head, but only landed one in the first round.

Pereira found success in the clinch until Adesanya unloaded with a right hook. It almost got Adesanya a knockdown as Pereira was stunned by the shot, but the bell for the end of round one saved Pereira.

The second round had Pereira trying to exact revenge for the first with a flurry of strikes. Though Pereira controlled the centre, Adesanya was calm and countered most of the offence coming his way. Another clinch tie-up halfway through had both guys landing body knees., and a takedown by Pereira ended the second round.

The third had more grappling and ground action towards the end, with Adesanya stomping, literally, in the last few seconds from a stand-up position to a lying-flat Pereira.

The fourth round was more of the same with stand-up and clinch action. Until the fifth had Pereira take it to the champ and land more strikes, dazing Adesanya with a left hook and follow up strikes with the referee calling off the match. It's the same move that earned Pereira a knockout victory over Adesanya in kickboxing.

In total, City Kickboxing is tied up 2-2 in victories and losses for UFC 281 today. Lightweight fighter Brad Riddell failed to get a win over Renato Moicano in the prelims. The two wins are from Ngāti Maniapoto fighter Dan Hooker getting a TKO over Claudio Puelles, and light heavyweight Carlos Ulberg (Te Atiawa, Hāmoa, Tainui) getting an emphatic KO victory over Nicolae Negumereanu.