In a rematch between two bitter rivals, Israel Adesanya brutally knocked out Alex Pereira in the second round of their bout to reclaim his middleweight title at UFC 287. The win marked Adesanya’s 24th mixed martial arts victory as well as his first win by knockout since September 2020.
Adesanya was seeking redemption after losing his middleweight title to Pereira in their fight last November. The Brazilian had also beaten Adesanya twice in kickboxing, including a brutal knockout in their 2017 rematch.
The opening round was a tentative start as both fighters traded leg kicks without landing anything significant. Adesanya landed the best strike of the round with a body kick, while Pereira lagged behind in terms of output.
At the start of the second round, Pereira blocked a head kick from Adesanya and replied with one of his own that briefly put ‘Stylebender’ on the backfoot. Pereira then pushed forward and landed a good flurry of punches that had Adesanya with his back against the fence.
However, Adesanya countered with an overhand right that staggered Pereira, and then landed another right hand that floored his rival. Pereira was unconscious as he hit the canvas, and Adesanya landed one follow-up punch before referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight.
After his win, Adesanya said, “I told you the hunter is now the hunted. They said revenge is sweet, and if you know me, I’ve got a sweet tooth. This is f****ng sweet. Alex is a great champion, no matter what. He lost the belt tonight, but he will always be a champion. In his story, I’m the bad guy, but tonight is my story. Him beating me made me a better fighter.”
With this victory, Adesanya has reclaimed his middleweight title and set the record straight with his bitter rival Pereira. He now has one win out of the four times they have met.