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.”

Amanda Lemos Pulls Off Upset Win Over Marina Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night

Amanda Lemos has pulled off an upset…

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist finished Marina Rodriguez via TKO at 54 seconds of the third round on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Rodriguez was poised for a title shot if she won, but now Lemos has snatched her spot near the top of the rankings.

The finish came after a big counter overhand right by Lemos. The punch landed to Rodriguez’s forehead, as Rodriguez was coming in for a combination of her own. It stopped Rodriguez in her tracks and left her rocked. Lemos pressed forward with another big right hand and then flurried with right and left hooks until referee Jason Herzog stepped in to stop it.

“Her legs started wobbling a little bit,” Lemos said in her postfight interview. “I didn’t think twice. I’m going to finish the fight right there.”

ESPN had Rodriguez ranked No. 4 in the women’s strawweight division coming in, with Lemos at No. 9. The big stoppage victory should push Lemos closer to title contention.

She proposed the idea of being the backup fighter for the women’s strawweight title fight next week at UFC 281 between champion Carla Esparza and former champ Zhang Weili in New York.

Lemos (13-2-1) has won two straight and seven of her past eight fights. The Brazilian-born slugger has finished five of her seven UFC victories. That ties her with Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade for the most finishes in UFC strawweight history.

Lemos was coming off a second-round submission win over Michelle Waterson-Gomez in July. Her only loss at 115 pounds came against Andrade in April.

Rodriguez (16-2-2) had a four-fight winning streak snapped. The Brazilian-born fighter had only lost once before in her MMA career, to Esparza in July 2020.

Rodriguez, 35, was coming off signature wins against contenders Yan Xiaonan and Mackenzie Dern.

Aline Pereira Signs MMA Deal with Legacy Fighting Alliance

It’s a family affair for Aline Pereira

The 32-year-old Brazilian kickboxer, the younger sister of Alex Pereira, will be making a transition to MMA.

Aline Pereira

Pereira, a former Glory kickboxer, has signed a mixed martial arts deal with Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA).

Pereira will make her MMA debut on November 18 against Ultimate Fighter veteran Helen Peralta in a women’s flyweight bout.

Pereira brother, the former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion who is now the top contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division. Alex, 35, will challenge old kickboxing rival Israel Adesanya for Adesanya’s middleweight title in the main event of UFC 281 on Nov. 12 in New York.

Aline, like her brother, trains out of former UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira‘s gym in Connecticut. She is 6-2 in kickboxing, most recently falling to Glory super bantamweight champion Tiffany Van Soest via unanimous decision in January 2021.

Carla Esparza to Defend UFC Women’s Strawweight Title Against Zhang Weili

Carla Esparza is ready to defend her title…

The 34-year-old part-Mexican and part-Ecuadorian American will face off against Zhang Weili at Madison Square Garden in a UFC women’s strawweight title fight.

Carla Esparza

Esperza, the current champion, and Zhang, the former champ, has been verbally agreed to for UFC 281 on November 12 in New York, according to ESPN.

The fight hasn’t yet been signed, nor officially announced by the UFC. But bout agreements have been sent out, per sources.

Both fighters have posted about the fight on their respective social media accounts. The news of the fight was first reported by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.

ESPN has Esparza ranked No. 1 in the world at 115 pounds and Zhang at No. 3.

Esparza (19-6) became a two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion when she beat Rose Namajunas via split decision at UFC 274 back in May. The California native was the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion, beating Namajunas to win The Ultimate Fighter — and the inaugural belt — in 2014. Esparza, 34, is on a six-fight winning streak.

Zhang (22-3) is coming off a second-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in June. The Chinese-born fighter lost the title to Namajunas at UFC 261 in April 2021 and then lost the rematch to Namajunas at Madison Square Garden last November at UFC 268. Zhang, 33, became the first Chinese-born fighter and second Asia-born fighter to win a UFC title when she beat Jessica Andrade to win the 115-pound belt in 2019.

UFC 281 will be headlined by a middleweight title fight between champion Israel Adesanyaand former kickboxing rival and top contender Alex Pereira.

Alex Pereira to Fight UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 281

Alex Pereira is taking on a champion…

Israel Adesanya will defend his UFC middleweight title against the 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer, his old rival, in the headliner of UFC 281 on November 12 in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Alex Pereira

Pereira owns two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, including one via knockout. ESPN has Adesanya ranked tied for third on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At middleweight, Adesanya is No. 1 and Pereira is No. 7.

Pereira, a former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion, beat Adesanya in kickboxing once by decision in 2016 and then again a year later via knockout.

Adesanya (23-1) is undefeated in his career at middleweight. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident has won three straight since falling in a light heavyweight title bout to Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. Adesanya, 33, owns five successful title defenses at middleweight, holding the undisputed title since October 2019.

Pereira (6-1) is coming off a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 last month, the same card in which Adesanya defended his title successfully against Jared Cannonier. The Brazilian slugger has five finishes in six career pro MMA victories since coming over from kickboxing.

Pereira, 35, is 3-0 in the UFC with a pair of $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.