Israel Adesanya explains disappointment with referee stoppage in Alex Pereira title fight at UFC 281: “You’ve seen where I can go to”

By Josh Evanoff - November 14, 2022

Former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya wasn’t a big fan of his stoppage loss.

Alex Pereira Israel Adesanya

Last Saturday, ‘The Last Stylebender’ returned to the octagon to headline UFC 281. Standing opposite the-then champion was his longtime foe, Alex Pereira. The Brazilian famously defeated Adesanya twice in their days as kickboxers.

To date,  ‘Poatan’ is the only man to ever knockout Adesanya, and now, he’s done it twice. In the main event last weekend, the champion was on his way to a decision victory. However, in the fifth and final round, the Brazilian made a dramatic comeback for the ages.

In the final frame, Alex Pereira unleashed a brutal combination, dropping Israel Adesanya. After some following shots, referee Marc Goddard stepped in, saving the swaying champion from being put out cold.

Since his second career loss, the former champion has been gracious in defeat. In an appearance on The MMA Hour, Adesanya discussed his defeat and didn’t offer any excuses. However, he did voice his thoughts that the fight should’ve gone on, especially given Goddard’s previous experience refereeing in his title reign.

Israel Adesanya Alex Pereira

(via Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“I watched the sequence again, and I had my head down. When I have my head down, I’m still looking at him,” stated Adesanya on The MMA Hour. “I could see the knees, people were saying ‘What if the knee came up?’, I was looking at his feet. I was looking at the arms, couldn’t see his head, but when I know where your arms and feet are, I know where your head is… When he stopped it the first thing I did, ‘I’m fine ref, I’m fine, what the hell?’

He continued, “Again, I’m the champion, you’ve refereed, I don’t blame him, Marc is a good referee. I agree [he’s one of the best in the world], but you refereed the [Kelvin] Gastelum fight, you’ve seen where I can go to. You should have that kind of faith in me… It is what it is.”

While Israel Adesanya isn’t happy with his loss to Alex Pereira, he will now turn his attention toward a rematch. The former champion, and Dana White, have signaled a second clash in MMA could be on the table next.

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Alex Pereira Israel Adesanya UFC UFC 281