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Israel Adesanya doesn’t blame Marc Goddard for Alex Pereira loss, but ref should have had ‘faith’ in him

Israel Adesanya is slightly skeptical of the referee work he received in his first career Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fight compared to his most recent.

Champion no more, Adesanya obtained interim gold in April 2019 before becoming the undisputed kingpin later that year. In that initial clash with Kelvin Gastelum, Adesanya was under the watch of referee, Marc Goddard, and the same was true for his appearance this past weekend (Nov. 12, 2022) against Alex Pereira at UFC 281.

Unfortunately for “The Last Stylebender,” this time around, things went differently. Adesanya suffered his first career defeat as a Middleweight in mixed martial arts (MMA), succumbing to a fifth round flurry from Pereira to drop a technical knockout loss along with his title (watch highlights).

“When I watch the sequence again, I watch it and I was just like head down — when I have my head down, I’m still looking at him,” Adesanya told The MMA Hour. “I can see the knees. A couple of people were like, ‘Oh, what if the knee came up?’ I’m looking at his feet and I’m looking at his arms, I couldn’t see his head. But when I know where your arms and your feet are, I know where your head is.

“I was just trying to keep it moving and when he stopped, the first thing I go is, ‘I’m fine, ref. I’m fine. What the hell?’” he continued. “Again, I’m a champion, you [Marc Goddard] reffed — I don’t blame him, Marc’s a good referee — the Gastelum fight. You’ve seen where I can go to, you should have that kind of faith in me. And also, you gave Kelvin Gastelum every chance after he got dropped the most in any title fight in the UFC’s history. I didn’t get dropped. Yeah, I got wobbled, but I wobbled because of my leg. I got hit with big shots because of my leg. Again, you’re under the pump, it’s a big show, it is what it is.”

Adesanya’s unanimous decision victory over Gastelum saw the pair awarded “Fight of the Night” honors and was also widely considered the best fight that year. The sensational striker enjoyed a run as champion, comprising five total title defenses before things came to a halt in Madison Square Garden against his old kickboxing rival, Pereira.

For complete UFC 281: “Adesanya Vs. Pereira” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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