Israel Adesanya believes he deserved a bit more leniency from referee Marc Goddard following his shocking defeat at UFC 281.
On Saturday night, former two-division GLORY Kickboxing champion Alex Pereira sent fans at Madison Square Garden and around the world into a frenzy when he knocked out favored rival Israel Adesanya to capture the UFC middleweight championship. Going into the fifth and final round down 39-37 on all three scorecards, Pereira needed a finish and that’s exactly what he got when he unloaded on ‘The Last Stylebender’, delivering a barrage of strikes that rocked the former champion.
After roughly ten seconds of unanswered strikes, Goddard stepped in and called for the stoppage. Adesanya immediately protested the finish inside the Octagon. By then, it didn’t matter. Adesanya was dethroned and a new king was crowned.
Israel Adesanya Says He Was ‘Wobbled’ Because of His Leg at UFC 281
Appearing on ‘The MMA Hour‘ with Ariel Helwani, Adesanya says that he holds no ill will towards Marc Goddard, but believes he deserved more of an opportunity to recover in the highly-entertaining main event scrap.
“I watched the sequence again. I watched and I was like, head down. When I had my head down, I’m still looking at him. I’m still looking at him. I can see the knees. People were like, ‘What if the knee came up?’ I’m looking at his feet and I’m looking at his arms. I couldn’t see his head, but when I know where your arms and feet are, I know where your head is. I was just trying to keep it moving, keep it moving.
“When he stopped it, first thing I go is, ‘I’m fine ref. I’m fine. What the hell?’ Again, I’m a champion. You refed… Again, I don’t blame him. Marc’s a good ref, but you refed the [Kelvin] Gastelum fight. You’ve seen where I can go to. You should have that kind of faith in me. Also, you gave Kelvin Gastelum every chance after he got dropped the most in any title fight in the UFC’s history. I didn’t get dropped. I got, yeah I got wobbled, but I wobbled because of my leg. I got hit with big shots, but I wobbled because of my leg. Again, you’re under the pump. It’s the big show. It is what it is.”
Israel Adesanya says he doesn't blame referee Marc Goddard for his stoppage, but was "fine" when it was stopped. #TheMMAHour
"You reffed the [Kelvin] Gastelum fight. You’ve seen where I can go to. You should have that kind of faith in me.”
— MMA Fighting (@MMAFighting) November 14, 2022
As champion, he made five title defenses before losing to his former kickboxing rival, Pereira, in Madison Square Garden.