NEW YORK – Another chapter is etched in the book of Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira after Saturday – with similar twists and turns.

In the UFC 281 headliner Saturday, Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) rallied to score a standing TKO stoppage of Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) at 2:01 of Round 5. The bout took place at Madison Square Garden.

Pereira held two wins over Adesanya from kickboxing, one a controversial and one a rally knockout. At UFC 281, he added an MMA win to the head-to-head series with a standing, come-from-behind TKO.

Highlights of bouts yesteryear concluded with two unique and memorable walkouts, furthermore elevating the big fight feels founded on natural rivalry.

Pereira walked to the cage first to the sound of a traditional indigenous peoples’ song. Madison Square Garden was illuminated in Brazilian green. Then it was Adesanya’s turn. There were no “Undertaker” or samurai outfits, but “Jigsaw” from the SAW movies made an appearance on-screen.

In the final seconds of a competitive Round 1, Adesanya landed a pair of punches that had Pereira hurt on the feet. In Round 2, Pereira bounced back, however, as he continued to pressure Adesanya relentlessly throughout. Pereira scored a late takedown on Adesanya to the audible surprise of the crowd.


— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) November 13, 2022

In Round 3, the tides switched back to Adesanya, as the fight took an unexpected left turn and became a grappling match. He carried the momentum into Round 4, as he picked apart the oncoming Pereira.

The tides turned in Round 5, however, as Pereira came out with a real sense of urgency. Potentially aware he was likely down three rounds to one, Pereira upped the ante. A checked leg kick knocked Adesanya off balance. Back up, Adesanya regained himself. Moments later, the barrage was back on. Pereira tagged Adesanya with a series of power punches.

Adesanya, with his back against the cage, tried to bob and weave his way out of danger, but referee Marc Goddard saw enough. He waved off the fight as Adesanya ducked and dodged. Initially, in protest, Adesanya didn’t complain further, during the official decision or otherwise.


— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 13, 2022

With the victory, Pereira wins the title in just his eighth professional MMA fight. Since his arrival in MMA, Pereira has been linked to Adesanya for those previous wins. While some critics pointed out his short run to the title in the UFC – and in MMA as a whole – Pereira passed every test thrown in front of him since 2015.

Prior to UFC 281, Pereira defeated Andreas Michailidis, Bruno Silva, and Sean Strickland. The defeat snaps a six-fight winning streak.

With the defeat, Adesanya loses for the first time at middleweight. His consecutive title defense streak ends at five.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 281 results include:

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 281.

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