Israel Adesanya may have lost his UFC middleweight title to Alex Pereira at UFC 281 last weekend, but “Last Stylebender” proved he’s still a true champion by the way he handled the defeat afterwards.
Adesanya was looking to lock down his sixth-straight UFC middleweight title defense while also avenging two previous losses to Pereira in kickboxing. “Last Stylebender” was the betting favorite to do just that and was in full control entering the fifth and final round. That’s when “Poatan” threw caution to the wind and unloaded a barrage of strikes on Adesanya, eventually forcing the referee’s hand for a late TKO stoppage.
While most fighters — let alone pound-for-pound champions of the sport — might bury their head in defeat, Adesanya put himself in front of the media and accepted his failure. Despite UFC 281 being one of the biggest combat platforms of the year the former UFC middleweight champion showed mental resilience and gratitude after losing to Pereira for a third time.
UFC color commentator, Joe Rogan, took notice of Adesanya’s post-fight actions and was simply amazed. Rogan had witnessed Adesanya’s UFC 281 collapse first-hand and was eager to discuss the former champion’s resolve during a recent episode of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
“Dude, the way he responded to that loss is better than anybody ever,” said Rogan. “The dude shows up to the press conference with a f—king fur coat like a king. Dope-ass watch on and just says, ‘He got me.’ He basically said ‘the hunter is now the hunted, I’m coming after him, I’m going to find a way to beat that dude. I was on my way to beating him, and he got me.’
“He was honest about all of it. About how Pereira landed a bunch of calf kicks early on and f—ked up his leg and he couldn’t move right. Those calf kicks have changed the game.”
As for the stoppage itself, some believe the fight was waived off a little too soon. While Pereira had connected with enough punches to put down a large horse “Last Stylebender” was still on his feet. It could have gone a little longer, but Rogan believes the stoppage was reasonable.
“I don’t think Pereira was going to stop,” Rogan said. “He had more time, ‘Izzy’ was stationary and Pereira was gonna hit him with some big shots. We don’t need to see ‘Izzy’ with his eyes rolled back behind his head flat out unconscious. I think it was a good stoppage.
“I could see where he’d be upset about it, too. I could see where other fights have gone on longer and they have, but it’s a subjective call and Marc Goddard is one of the very best in the world. He’s top 2 or 3, he might be No. 2, I think Herb Dean’s No. 1. He was saying ‘Bring back Steve Mazzagatti.’ (laughs) Then he went on Andrew Schulz’s podcast on Monday, they were drinking, having fun. He handled it very, very well.”
For complete UFC 281 results and coverage click here.