‘The Last Stylebender’ was three minutes away from extending his UFC middleweight title reign before ‘Poatan’ shocked the MMA world with a fifth-round TKO. Pereira’s win ended Adesanya’s run as middleweight king that dates back to October 2019, when he exchanged his interim title for Robert Whittaker’s undisputed.
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Adesanya remained humble in defeat and made zero excuses for losing. Despite the devastating ending, the former middleweight champion decided to make appearances on several shows the following week, including The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and Flagrant with Andrew Schulz.
While appearing on Flagrant, Adesanya detailed the UFC 281 main event and what led to his loss. ‘The Last Stylebender’ had this to say about the utilization of leg kicks from himself and Pereira:
“My leg was compromised by him… He f***ed it up. I f***ed his leg up to. I think he did it worse short term cause I’m walking. I bet you his is probably still sore right now. But mine he hit the peroneal nerve… When it happened to me, it might have been the second kick he landed, and my leg was fine, but I just felt the nerve shoot up… I was fine. I was moving around, but then the longer the fight went, and the more leg kicks he landed, the worse it got.”
Adesanya’s compromised leg ultimately slowed him down, and Pereira found a small window of opportunity to secure a standing TKO. It’s difficult to imagine ‘The Last Stylebender’ not getting an immediate rematch, but the former middleweight king has announced a PCL injury could keep him sidelined for a few months.
Israel Adesanya wants to fight Alex Pereira again: ‘I know what to do now’
Israel Adesanya revealed on Flagrant that a PCL injury almost forced him out of the UFC 281 main event. ‘The Last Stylebender’ healed quickly and fulfilled his hopes of fighting three times in 2022. While speaking with Andrew Schulz, the comedian asked Adesanya about a potential situation where Alex Pereira defended the middleweight title against someone else while he recovered from his injuries. The former UFC champion said this:
“If I did [need surgery] and he [Alex Pereira] fought someone else in the interim and then lost the belt to that guy, I’d probably just come back and fight him. I can beat him. I’ve been in there with him too many times now, and I’ve also taken his best shots in different gloves. I took him down. I controlled him. I know what to do now because I compromised his legs early, but then he compromised mine as well. If I hit his peroneal nerve, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
Nobody could’ve predicted at the beginning of the year that 2022 would end with Pereira as the UFC middleweight champion. ‘Poatan’ started by beating Bruno Silva in March and ended the year dethroning one of the greatest middleweights of all time. Regardless of who the Brazilian world champion fights next, ‘The Last Stylebender’ is destined for one more crack at his rival.
Watch Israel Adesanya on Flagrant with Andrew Schulz below: