Israel Adesanya finally landed the punches he sought for years – and when they landed, he once again became the UFC middleweight champion.
In the UFC 287 main event in Miami, Adesanya defeated Alex Pereira by knockout at 4:21 of Round 2. It was rivalry’s fourth in combat sports and the second in MMA. It was also the first Adesanya won.
Pereira entered the bout at 3-0 in the lifetime series, with two kickboxing wins (one by knockout and one by decision) and a UFC title-earning TKO victory over Adesanya at UFC 281 in November 2022. Both of Pereira’s stoppage victories were late-round comebacks, further igniting the uneasy feelings with Adesanya.
The first round was a leg kick battle. Adesanya utilized his technical striking as Pereira leaned on his signature power. A close opening five minutes of point-fighting was followed by a more aggressive second round from both fighters, particularly Pereira, who landed a hard knee and punches combination.
With Adesanya against the cage, Pereira attempted more strikes but was met by two conscious-stealing right hands. Adesanya landed one massive hammerfist follow-up before referee Dan Miragliotta dove in to save the stiffened Pereira.
That’s when the celebration began. Adesanya stood over his long-time rival and pretended to shoot arrows at his downed opponent, a play on Pereira’s signature walkout motions. Breakdancing followed before the UFC middleweight title was once again wrapped around Adesanya’s waist.