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Monday Morning Hangover: Israel Adesanya is now the hunter ahead of potential Alex Pereira rematch

UFC 281 went down this past weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) inside Madison Square Garden in New York City in what truly was an action-packed event that left plenty of fighters feeling the post-fight blues. Among them was Carla Esparza, who coughed up her women’s Strawweight title to Zhang Weili, who submitted her in round two (see it again here). And Michael Chandler, who was choked out by Dustin Poirier in a thrilling Lightweight scrap (recap).

But which fighter is feeling the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Israel Adesanya.

Coming into the event, all eyes were on “The Last Stylebender” to see if he could finally take out Alex Pereira, the boogeyman who haunted him during his kickboxing career and gave him his first-ever knockout loss.

Things couldn’t have started better for Adesanya, who was seconds away from stopping his long-time nemesis in the first round, rocking him in the closing seconds of the opening frame before time ran out.

For the rest of the fight, Adesanya looked great, tagging Pereira while eating some of his best shots. After four rounds, it seemed as if the champ was on his way to a clear-cut unanimous decision win, while also getting the revenge he’s long-desired. But, as fate would have it, “Poatan” managed to clip Adesanya with a vicious hook and proceeded to let his hands fly, tagging his foe multiple times with a violent barrage of strikes which forced the official on duty to step in and put an end to the title fight.

And just like that, Adesanya suffered his first loss at 185 pounds, lost his belt and suffered a third defeat at the hands of talented Brazilian striker. But, if you thought “The Last Stylebender” was going to bury his head in the sand, you were dead wrong.

Not only did he attend the post-fight press conference (see it here), he took the time to give his foe his props on social media.

“I love this game. Attacking Titans like this one thrills me!! Another chapter to “Poatan,” wrote Adesanya on Twitter. “You won the battle yet again, but the war wages on! The hunter now becomes the hunted, the game’s not over.”

A rematch between the two talented strikes is all but certain since UFC President, Dana White, is all for it. And I’m sure Pereira wouldn’t mind giving the ex-champ a shot since Adesanya was quick to give him a title fight after only three wins inside the Octagon.

Since 2019, “The Last Stylebender” has always been the “A side” coming into a fight, but he will now be the challenger, the hunter looking to claim the big prize. He has all the motivation to get his belt back, especially since he dominated the fight up until he got clipped.

If he wins it could open up the doors for a potential "Figueiredo vs Moreno”-type situation, which tends to hold up a division. But, that’s jumping the gun because another loss for Adesanya could mean a move up to the Light Heavyweight division for as long as Pereira holds the title at 185 pounds.

For complete UFC 281 results and coverage click here.

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