The UFC’s middleweight title will be up for grabs in the UFC 281 main event when the reigning champion, Israel Adesanya, defends his belt against a devastating striker in Alex Pereira.
Adesanya and Pereira have quite the history. Pereira actually holds two kickboxing wins over Izzy, including one brutal knockout. In their second fight, Pereira caught Adesanya with his patented left hook to floor Izzy and get his second victory over him.
Since then, Adesanya completely took over the very top of the MMA scene, claiming victories over every 185-pounder put in front of him. Since capturing the UFC’s middleweight belt, Israel has successfully defensed his crown an impressive five times.
Pereira is only 6-1 in his MMA career, but the planets have aligned just right for him to get three UFC wins to fast track him to a title shot. The fight that merited his shot at Izzy was a brilliant first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 this past July, and that same left hook that flattened Izzy was used to take out Sean.
Will Adesanya finally get his retribution against a man that holds two wins over him, or will there be a new sheriff in town at 185-pounds?
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Alex Pereira def. Israel Adesanya by TKO at 2:01 of round 5: Middleweight Title
Pereira opened the match with a flying kick, and after he missed a bit of a feeling out process went on. Both men were looking to make reads, throwing feints and finding their timing Adesanya was the first to land a big punch, and they were both scoring with leg kicks. Izzy clinched up, and they took turns attacking the body. Just at the bell, Adesanya wobbled Pereira with a piston of a right hand, followed by a left hook at the buzzer.
Pereira pressured to begin the second stanza, seeming to have recovered from getting clipped. Adesanya kept moving and feinting as Pereira tried to back him up to the cage. A couple of hard punches got through for Pereira, which prompted Izzy to grapple. Pereira defended a takedown and returned to stalking the champ. Pereira ended up snagging a last second takedown in what was a pretty close round.
Adesanya came up with an early takedown in the third, and started to pound away on Pereira. From the back, Izzy punched away as Pereira kept trying to stand up. Pereira ended up gaining his full guard, but Izzy stood over him and delivered a sinister axe kick to the body.
Izzy took the center of the Octagon to start the fourth round. The pressure and output from Pereira was on the low side, meanwhile Adesanya was staying active with a lot of variety. Izzy started to brutalize the body with kicks, slowing down an already slowing Pereira. The champ then clinched up in search of a takedown. Pereira remained vertical and started to move forward again.
Pereira upped his aggression at the beginning of the final frame, backing up Izzy to the cage. Adesanya kept clinching up, but couldn’t stay there for long. With Adesanya’s back to the cage, Pereira started to unload his hands and staggered the champ. Pereira went into kill mode, peppering Izzy who was becoming increasingly unresponsive. The referee stepped in and Pereira got the standing TKO. Woah!