UFC 287 offered one of the biggest title fights currently possible. Alex Pereira as the champion in his first defense, Israel Adesanya uncharacteristically as the challenger. Fourth time against each other, but the first time Adesanya won. And how!
It was November 2022. Israel Adesanya had another title defense ahead of him. Only he was facing a man who had already beaten him twice in his career. In kickboxing, but there was a lot of talk before the fight.
When the fight came, Alex Pereira was pulling the short end of the rope the whole time. But in the fifth round, Adesanya hurt his leg and his movement deteriorated, making him an easy target for the Brazilian. He won by TKO and robbed the champion of his belt.
It was clear the UFC had a big story to chew on. A rematch was arranged very quickly and it happened on Sunday, April 9. Adesanya came to the public weigh-in with a collar around his neck and with various allusions to the movie “Breaking Away,” mentioned that he was a dog waiting to be unleashed.
There was tremendous pressure on the former dominant king. Much was made of the fact that Pereira had already beaten him three times. That’s got to show in the head. But when the fight came, Adesanya lived up to his words.
Adesanya brutally shut down Pereira
The first round was more of a feeler, but in the second, both top fighters committed to sharper exchanges and for the fans of the then former champion, every exchange was an infarction. There can be no doubting Pereira’s power, any punch he throws could spell the end.
But Adesanya came back brilliantly, and he did a very smart thing. He lured Pereira to the fence, got hit a few times and when it looked like he was in trouble, he landed an uncompromising punch to finish his opponent mercilessly. In the second round.
Adesanya showed tremendous mental resilience and you could tell he was hugely relieved after the win. So much so that he enjoyed the celebration in a perhaps unsportsmanlike manner as he mimicked the hunter Pereira with his gestures. While the latter was on the ground, Adesanya imaginatively shot several arrows from his bow at him.
Anyway, a big win and proof that it never pays to underestimate Adesanya. He showed why he was the favorite and put on a fantastic performance.
Source: UFC, Twitter
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