One of the greatest rivalries in combat sports history? Quite possibly. Alex Pereira is no longer the UFC champion. Israel Adesanya took his middleweight title back. He took the Brazilian down hard in the second round. He wasn’t exactly athletic in the cage, but it was a different story backstage.
UFC 287 is over and there was a lot to see. In particular, the main event featuring a title fight between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya showed just how top notch fighters they both are.
Pereira had to stop Adesanya in the fifth round last November to get the win over him. And he was able to do that thanks to a leg injury the then-champion suffered. And now he wanted to build on that.
He had already beaten his rival three times. Twice in kickboxing, once in MMA. There was a lot of pressure on Adesanya. He was constantly reminded that he hadn’t won against Pereira yet. But he showed tremendous power and this time he was able to take the Brazilian down.
And he literally did. In the second round, he lured him to the fence and waited for the perfect moment. He did, and then he landed a hard, brutal punch that sent Pereira into dreamland. Still in the cage, he used an imaginary bow to put several arrows into the Brazilian, alluding to Pereira’s gestures.
A huge stone fell from Adesanya’s heart after the win. He had rid himself of the curse, defeated his demon. No one could blame him for his emotions. Especially now that the UFC has released behind-the-scenes footage from after the fight.
The new middleweight champion paid tribute to Pereira. Adesanya told his Brazilian rival that he is a great champion and always will be, no matter what he says.
However, Pereira also paid respect to his conqueror. Both fighters are absolute world class and both have great character. This is how it should be despite the great sporting rivalry!
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