Israel Adesanya reclaimed the UFC middleweight title after he knocked out champion Alex Pereira in a brutal finish at UFC 287 in Miami on Saturday night.
Adesanya made up for his UFC 281 fifth-round TKO defeat to Pereira, who claimed his title in just his fourth fight in the Octagon.
A charged Pereira began the fight with a slew of leg kicks while Adesanya made up with fierce jabs in an electrifying first round. ‘Poatan’ Pereira attempted to close out Adesanya in the second with his leg kicks gaining force before landing a few body hooks on Adesanya’s ribs.
The 33-year-old Adesanya retorted with an out-of-the-blue right hook to Pereira’s face and followed up with another swipe to floor the Brazilian at 4:32 in Round 2 of the title clash.
Adesanya lifted his overall MMA record to 24-2 with the win which resulted in his eighth triumph/defence of the UFC middleweight championship. Adesanya also became the first two-time UFC middleweight Champion and tied Anderson Silva for the most knockouts (13) in the division.
‘The Last Stylebender’ incidentally marked his first win against the Brazilian Pereira in four fights over the last seven years, twice in kickboxing before their last meeting at UFC 281 last November.
Reflecting on his opponent and his return as champion, Adesanya said: “Hey listen up, I wanna say something to everyone watching me here and on TV, you should feel what I’m feeling at least once in your lifetime. But you can’t do that if you don’t go for something. They say revenge is the sweetest and you know me, I got a sweet tooth.
“No matter what, Alex is a great champion. He lost the belt tonight but he’ll always be a champion. In his story, I’m the antagonist. But tonight it is my story - history. I’d like to thank Alex here, thank you for beating me. By beating me, he made me a better fighter, a better person.”
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