There is nothing referee Marc Goddard would change about his stoppage of Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira at UFC 281 this past November.
The former UFC middleweight champion was ahead on the judges’ scorecards 3-1 when Pereira started coming forward and connecting with several punches that staggered Adesanya. The ‘Last Stylebender’ was caught between the cage and ‘Po Atan,’ who was unwavering in his onslaught. Not seeing a great response from Adesanya, Goddard stepped in and stopped the fight in the fifth and final round.
Adesanya protested, saying that he was ‘fine’ and waiting for Pereira to ‘gas out’ before he could respond. And though some support Adesanya, others agree with Goddard and his stoppage, which he still stands by.
“I feel very good,” Goddard told Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. “Israel, I think he’s a great guy. I think he was a fantastic champion. I’m not just saying it because I’m here [at the World MMA Awards]. I like guy a lot. I like all the fighters. That’s my job, I’m down the line, and if I done that fight again, 11 times out of 10, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m very comfortable with my actions, and the people who know me will know I’m my harshest critic. It’s a very fine line. We don’t get second takes, reverse angles, etc. And ultimately, like I said, much to people’s adverse opinion, people find it weird when we say we’re there to protect the fighters when they knock hell’s bells out of each other for 25 minutes.
“At the end of the day, my job is to act instinctually and correctly to protect the guys,” continued Goddard. “It was an amazing fight. Congratulations to Alex, all the respect in the world to Izzy. God bless to both of them. I’m happy with what I did.”
Goddard understands that Adesanya may have wanted to ‘go out on his shield,’ but the referee continues to stress that the protection of the fighters is his priority.
A month removed from their fight, Adesanya and Pereira have expressed interest in a potential rematch in the near future.