MMA fans often complain about the rising cost of UFC pay-per-view (PPV) cards, but we certainly got our money’s worth from UFC 281 last Sat. night (Nov. 12) in New York, which featured five straight finishes and two title changes. That includes the 185-pound strap, which now rests around the waist of newly-crowned middleweight champion Alex Pereira after “Poatan” obliterated “The Last Stylebender” late in the final frame.
Watch the video highlights here.
Adesanya, 33, suffered his first loss as a UFC middleweight (second in MMA overall) and should probably plan for an immediate rematch, but not because the fight was stopped prematurely. A referee is compelled to act when fighters are no longer intelligently defending themselves and during Pereira’s finishing sequence of strikes, the former champion took nearly a dozen unanswered blows from the swarming Brazilian.
Izzy fans are mad about it; and I get it, nobody wants to see their favorite fighter lose.
But if you didn't have a problem with the finish in the Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey fight at UFC 207 (see it again here), then there’s no reason to start making a fuss about UFC 281. It’s also worth noting that referee Marc Goddard had to hold Adesanya up after stopping the fight to keep him from toppling over, so Goddard ending it when he did simply saved “The Last Stylebender” from any unnecessary punishment.
“I didn’t have a problem with the stoppage,” UFC President Dana White said at the UFC 281 post-fight press conference (watch the replay here). “He was hurt. He obviously wasn’t out but he seemed pretty hurt to me.”
Now it’s time for part two ... or four, depending on how you’re keeping score.
Pereira, 35, also captured two wins on the kickboxing circuit but I don’t think it’s fair to have them factored into the equation. The best case for running it back is the fact that Adesanya (23-2) earned it by winning 12 straight fights in the middleweight division with five of those victories serving as 185-pound title defenses. He’s been the top dog for the last couple of years and was leading on the scorecards prior to the fifth-round finish.
Have a look:
Pereira (7-1) appeared to be on his way to a decision loss.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” White said about a potential rematch. “Israel Adesanya didn’t even flinch about taking this fight. He wanted this fight. A lot of people talk publicly and it’s a whole different story behind the scenes. That guy’s an absolute stud, always wants to stay active. A fight that most guys would stall, ‘gimme more time, gimme this, that,’ he dove right into this fight. His only loss was when he tried to move up in weight to 205 so you gotta respect him as a champ and what he’s done.”
The other reason to greenlight an immediate rematch is the lack of available contenders. The middleweight Top 5 (excluding Pereira who was ranked No. 4 at the time of this fight) is a combined 0-7 against Adesanya. Nothing but love for Robert Whittaker, but “The Reaper” is 0-2 in his last two title shots and I’m not sure it makes sense to rubber stamp a third simply because Adesanya is no longer on top.
Besides, if Stipe Miocic can battle Daniel Cormier in three straight title fights, surely we can stomach another go-round between Adesanya and Pereira.
For complete UFC 281 results and live play-by-play updates click here. To check out the latest and greatest “Adesanya vs. Pereira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive UFC 281 event archive right here.