By Sedara Oluwadara
Alex Pereira defeated Israel Adesanya via TKO to become the new UFC undisputed middleweight champion of the world.
The main event of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden was stopped by referee Mark Goddard in minute 2:01 of the fifth round as Adesanya was visibly dazed.
Pereira, 35, connected a handful of consecutive, powerful strikes to Adesanya’s face, forcing the stoppage by referee.“I feel very good, very happy. It was already written. God wanted me to be the champion,” Pereira told Joe Rogan in the postfight interview.
Heading into the contest, Pereira already had two wins over Adesanya in professional kickboxing, including a brutal knockout in 2017.
Following an epic bout and a shocking TKO in the final round, it’s likely not going to be the last time these two warriors face each others.
A slow start to the fight saw Adesanya win the opening round after rocking Pereira as the bell rang.
Pereira made Adesanya uncomfortable in the second round, keeping him on his heels, connecting a kick to the face and getting a takedown to tie the fight at one frame apiece.
Adesanya, 33, took down Pereira in Round 3, exhausting the Brazilian fighter with ground and pound from behind.
“The Last Stylebender” was in full control of the fight through the fourth round, in which both fighters seemed to have saved their energy for the final five minutes.
If it wasn’t for the TKO, Adesanya would have surely won via unanimous decision, but Pereira proved to be his kryptonite, stealing his title belt and remaining undefeated in the UFC.