Israel Adesanya thought referee Marc Goddard should have given him more time to get out of danger against Alex Pereira at UFC 281 this past Saturday. However, to ‘Po Atan,’ more time would have only prolonged the inevitable.
Down on the judges’ scorecards 3-1, Pereira moved forward and connected with a left hook and a flurry of punches that had Adesanya stunned. The challenger never let up, and Goddard saw enough to step in and stop the fight in the fifth and final round. The ex-champion protested immediately, as he never went down and would have preferred to go out completely.
“My ego would say at least let me go out on my shield,” said Adesanya at his post-fight press conference. “But I don’t think I would’ve gone out because I was still there. I’ve seen worse stoppages. F—ing bring back Steve Mazzagatti. Bring back Steve Mazzagatti, I would’ve been fine. He might’ve won that round, but I’d still be champion.”
Pereira disagrees. In response to those post-fight comments, the newly crowned UFC middleweight champion reminded Adesanya of his position when Goddard saved him from suffering an even worse fate.
“Adesanya, stop making excuses saying the referee stopped the fight early…you have to thank him for saving your life,” wrote Pereira. “The way you were with your head down looking at the ground, I only needed one or two more hits to connect a good knee to your face so we wouldn’t know the outcome.
“As I said at that point in the video, you were a great opponent and I respect you for that,” continued Pereira. “Assume the mistakes along with your team without taking away my merits. You will have one more chance! You’re next!”
An immediate rematch between Pereira and Adesanya could be on the horizon, as UFC president Dana White said he ‘wouldn’t rule it out’ next. And with all parties involved in agreement, a fourth fight seems very likely.
With the win, Pereira is now 3-0 against Adesanya. Two of those wins happened when both fighters were still competing in kickboxing.