Israel Adesanya reclaimed his middleweight title in Miami on Saturday night after viciously knocking out his bitter rival Alex Pereira at UFC 287.
In the closing stages of the second round, Adesanya looked to be hurt with his back against the cage. As Pereira piled on the pressure, ‘The Last Stylebender’ unleashed two ferocious right hands to send his nemesis crashing to the canvas.
Having been defeated by Pereira three times before this fight – twice in kickboxing and once in MMA – this extraordinary victory will surely go down as Adesanya’s most significant one to date.
An Inspirational Post-Fight Speech
“I hope every one of you can feel this level of happiness for one time in your life,” said Adesanya after the fight.
“You’ll never feel this level of happiness if you don’t go for something in your life. When they knock you down, if you stay down you will never get that resolve. Fortify your mind and feel this level of happiness.”
Analysis and Breakdown
In the first round both fighters demonstrated high fight IQ and top level kickboxing to disguise their attacks and not give anything away to their opponent.
It was extremely close again as they traded leg kicks, with Adesanya trying to land the jab-cross combination that he found success with in the first MMA fight. Pereira moved out of range of the majority of these strikes, but Adesanya did land a big body kick off of one of these attempts.
Adesanya was more offensive in this fight. He chose not to back up as much as before and moved well while feinting the jab and switching stances, not allowing Pereira to apply the same pressure as he did at UFC 281.
At the start of round 2 Adesanya started to mix up his kicks and increase his output. Pereira responded to this though and began to pressure Adesanya towards the cage, opening up with his strikes and landing his signature left hook.
Both men turned up the intensity and began throwing more. Adesanya did well to stay off the cage as he went first with his punches to deter Pereira.
Beginning of the End / The KO
In the final minute of the round, Pereira landed a leg kick that buckled Adesanya. He swarmed his opponent, landing yet another kick to the calf that forced Adesanya to cover up against the cage.
Pereira unloaded with a mixture of attacks to Adesanya’s body and head that echoed the previous fight and for a moment it looked as if it would be the same end result, until Adesanya countered a Pereira left hook with two explosive overhand rights that knocked Pereira out cold.
Adesanya Avenges Loss
Pereira did not retract his left hook and was made to pay dearly by the devastating Adesanya as he went to throw it for a second time. Just as Pereira loaded up the second hook, Adesanya popped him with a jab before the clinical right hand.
This was again reminiscent of the first MMA fight when Adesanya threw out the jab to blind Pereira and followed it with the right that stunned him at the end of round 1.
Pereira hit the deck and Adesanya reigned supreme once again. The Nigeria-born New Zealander mimicked Alex Pereira’s own celebration three times as he lay unconscious – the draw of the bow and release of the arrow – one for every previous defeat.
A Third UFC Fight?
Adesanya silenced his critics who doubted his chances against Pereira and questioned his mental fortitude by delivering a spectacular moment that will live long in the memories of MMA fans.
The score between these two titans in the UFC is now one a piece, each fighter holding a stoppage win over the other. There is a strong case for a third fight but many including Dana White believe Pereira will move up a division to light heavyweight.
This was yet another thrilling encounter between between two world-class kickboxers and a glorious victory for one of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters the UFC has ever seen.