At UFC 287, held in Miami’s Kaseya Center, Israel Adesanya achieved a spectacular knockout win over Alex Pereira in the main event, regaining the UFC middleweight championship.
The win not only sees Adesanya become the first two-time middleweight champion in UFC history but also marks an impressive turnaround for the fighter who had previously suffered three defeats to Pereira – twice in kickboxing and once by knockout.
Adesanya’s victory came in the second round, with several brutal right hands that put Pereira down. Then, as referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight, Adesanya delivered a hammer fist that left Pereira unconscious on the canvas.
Adesanya expressed his post-fight thoughts, saying that he wished everyone watching, both in the arena and at home, to experience his immense joy. However, he emphasized that one must take risks and pursue their goals relentlessly to attain such a feeling.
The win sees Adesanya regain the middleweight title he had previously held for five title defenses before losing to Pereira in November 2021.
Before the fight, Adesanya was placed at No. 5 on ESPN’s pound-for-pound MMA list. He has joined a select group of just four out of 15 fighters who have successfully regained their titles in an immediate rematch.
Dana White, the President of UFC, commended Adesanya for his resilience, stating that he is mentally challenging. White dismissed concerns over Adesanya’s mental state leading up to the fight and praised the fighter for his unique qualities, saying, “He’s special. He’s different.” As some had speculated, he clarified that he did not believe Pereira had gotten inside Adesanya’s head.
Pereira, who came into the fight on a seven-fight winning streak, suffered his second loss in MMA, with his only other defeat coming in his debut in 2015.
Despite his rivalry with Pereira, Adesanya admired his opponent: “Regardless of anything, Alex is a great champion. He may have lost the belt tonight, but he will always be a champion. In his narrative, I am the antagonist and the villain, but tonight, the spotlight is on me. It’s my story. It’s history.”
The win sets up exciting possibilities for Adesanya’s future fights in the middleweight division as he looks to solidify his legacy as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history.