Alex Pereira Defeats Israel Adesanya via TKO to Claim UFC Middleweight Title

Alex Pereira has pulled off a massive upset…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer stopped Israel Adesanya via TKO at 2 minutes, 1 second of the fifth and final round this weekend in the main event of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden.

Alex Pereira With the victory, Pereira won the UFC middleweight title in just his fourth fight with the promotion. Adesanya had been the champion since 2019.

Adesanya had been winning the fight until the final sequence, with Pereira firing a barrage of punches with Adesanya hurt against the cage. Referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop it after a flurry of left hooks and right hands, though Adesanya was never dropped.

Pereira said that in his corner before the fifth round, his coaches and his MMA mentor Glover Teixeira, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, “kept it real” with him.

“I said, ‘Do I have to knock him out?'” Pereira said through an interpreter. “Glover said, ‘You do have to knock him out.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.'”

Pereira and Adesanya fought twice before in kickboxing, with Pereira winning both times, the most recent a 2017 knockout of Adesanya.

“It’s another great story for him, but it’s not over,” Adesanya said. “This is still war.”

Coming in, ESPN had Adesanya ranked No. 2 on its pound-for-pound list of best MMA fighters. At middleweight, Adesanya was No. 1, and Pereira was ranked No. 7.

All three judges had Adesanya ahead 39-37 going into the fifth round, with Adesanya winning every round except the second. There were similar circumstances in their second kickboxing match, with Adesanya dominating the first two rounds before Pereira knocked him out in the third.

“F—ing crazy, isn’t it?” Adesanya said. “Similar to the last time — same story.”

In the first round on Saturday, Adesanya rocked Pereira at the end, and a wobbly Pereira was essentially saved by the bell. Pereira came back strong in the second round with a pair of his signature left hooks. Adesanya was able to keep Pereira at bay in the third and fourth and even did some wrestling and grappling to win the third.

In the fifth, Adesanya oddly stumbled and rolled backward after a leg kick exchange. He said in the postfight news conference that Pereira landed a kick to the peroneal nerve of his right leg, which can numb the leg.

“That’s why my footwork was compromised,” Adesanya said. “It was just my leg. My leg gave away. Kudos to him. He invested in those [calf kicks] well.”

Pereira (7-1) knocked out Sean Strickland in the first round at UFC 276 in July to earn the title shot. The Brazilian slugger has six KO/TKOs in seven career MMA victories and is 4-0 in the UFC. Pereira, is a former Glory Kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight champion.

“So many years of hard work and dedication, and here I am, champion of the world,” Pereira said.

Adesanya (23-2) had won three straight fights and was undefeated at middleweight coming into this bout. His only career loss before this was in a light heavyweight title fight last year against Jan Blachowicz. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident had five successful middleweight title defenses following a win over Robert Whittaker to earn the belt in October 2019. Adesanya, 33, was coming off a unanimous decision win over Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 in July.

UFC president Dana White said he wouldn’t rule out an immediate rematch between Pereira and Adesanya, which Adesanya said he is expecting.

“He’s been a great champion for us,” White said of Adesanya. “He likes to fight all the time. He doesn’t say no. He’ll fight anybody. Those are fun guys to have. And he’s a good person.”

Deiveson Figueiredo Defeats Joseph Benavidez to Win UFC Flyweight Title

Deiveson Figueiredo is a titleholder…

The 32-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and UFC fighter has defeated Joseph Benavidez to claim the vacant UFC flyweight championship.

Deiveson Figueiredo

In a rematch of their controversial bout earlier this year, Figueiredo knocked down Benavidezthree times and then choked him out at 4:48 of the first round in the main event of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi. 

In the opening seconds Figueiredo clipped Benavidez with a right hand, then attempted to cinch in a rear-naked choke on the ground. Benavidez bravely fought off the move and was able to get back on his feet. But he couldn’t do that a second time. Figueiredo blasted him with a whipping right hand in the final minute of the first, then pounced and locked in the submission to earn the title victory. Benavidez didn’t have a chance to tap out — he went unconscious and referee Marc Goddard called the fight.

“I said I was going to break Benavidez, and that’s exactly what I did,” Figueiredo said. “I gave him his first submission on his record, and the fight itself was a great show. I gave everyone a show. He didn’t surprise me at all tonight.”

Coming in, ESPN had Figueiredo ranked as its No. 2 MMA flyweight in the world, and Benavidez No. 3. Figueiredo is now just the third flyweight champion in UFC history, following the legendary Demetrious Johnson and the recently retired former double champ Henry Cejudo.

“I’m available for whoever the UFC wants to put in front of me. Anyone at my level,” Figueiredo said. “But you have to be at my level, because I’m a knockout artist, I’m going to knock you out. I’m going home tomorrow, and we’re going to start celebrating with all Brazilians on the flight back, and as soon as I land in Brazil everyone is going to be taking pictures and congratulating me, so it’s going to be a great party.”

Benavidez and Figueiredo first fought on Feb. 29 in Norfolk, Virginia. The bout was supposed to decide the vacant title, but Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds. Due to the weight miss, Benavidez was the only one who could win the belt in the fight — but Figueiredo ended up stopping Benavidez by TKO in the second round.

There was some dispute there, too. Figueiredo’s finish came right after a clash of heads that rocked Benavidez, who had won the first round. The circumstances led to the UFC granting Benavidez an immediate rematch.