Isreal Adesanya lost to Pereira via unanimous decision in their first kickboxing showdown in 2016 and by third-round KO in their kickboxing rematch in 2017.
Additionally, Pereira defeated ‘The Last Stylebender’ via fifth-round TKO in their MMA bout at UFC 281 on November 12th, 2022. The 35-year-old Pereira thereby captured the UFC middleweight title. Taking to his FREESTYLEBENDER YouTube channel, the 33-year-old Adesanya recently asserted that he’s watched the knockout over 20 times. As reported by The Mirror, ‘Izzy’ stated:
“I don’t know, about 20 just on Instagram. On the ‘gram I’ve seen it because you get tagged in videos and s**t and you’re just like ‘huh,’ so I watched it, I’m sure just over 20 or so times.”
Akin to many others in the MMA community, Israel Adesanya believes his UFC 281 fight was stopped prematurely by referee Marc Goddard. However, he added that it’s likely that his ego is making him feel as such.
‘Izzy’ alluded to the dangers of a dazed fighter sustaining unnecessary damage and highlighted that an early stoppage is better than one that’s late. Adesanya acknowledged that he was rocked but maintained that he was able to see Pereira’s strikes.
Adesanya explained that he hurt his leg and wasn’t able to use evasive footwork, adding that he was utilizing head movement in the final sequence to avoid being a stationary target.
Furthermore, he harked back to when he scored multiple knockdowns in his 2019 fight against Kelvin Gastelum and dropped him again in the closing seconds of the fifth and final round.
Adesanya noted that Goddard officiated the matchup as well and allowed Gastelum to fight on. He opined that Goddard could’ve extended the same courtesy to him against Pereira. Regardless, Adesanya said:
“I don’t blame the referee because we were in the moment and I think it was a good stoppage.”
Watch Adesanya’s assessment in the video below:
Is an immediate title rematch against Alex Pereira on the cards for Israel Adesanya?
As of this time, the UFC is yet to officially announce a possible middleweight title rematch between reigning champion Alex Pereira and former titleholder Israel Adesanya. Nevertheless, during the UFC 281 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White indicated that the promotion could book a Pereira-Adesanya rematch next.
Israel Adesanya, for his part, successfully defended the title five times during his reign. Considering his impressive resume and how close he was to knocking Pereira out early in their UFC 281 fight, many have called for ‘Izzy’ to face Pereira again. Moreover, it’s believed that their potential rematch could materialize in early 2023.