Israel Adesanya is no longer the UFC Middleweight Champion and he’s reacted to his TKO loss.
Adesanya fought Alex Pereira for a third time in the main event of UFC 281. “The Last Stylebender” suffered two losses to Pereira in kickboxing, one of which was via brutal knockout. This go-around, Adesanya looked on his way to a tough, but unanimous decision win. That’s when Pereira turned up the heat in the final round and scored the TKO finish.
Adesanya was standing up, trying to defend the barrage of punches, but referee Marc Goddard had seen enough. During the UFC 281 post-fight press conference, Adesanya expressed his belief that he could’ve continued fighting and would’ve survived. He even joked about wanting to bring back referee Steve Mazzagatti (h/t MMAMania).
“Ugh. Fu*k. My ego would say ‘at least let me go out on my shield’ but I don’t think I would have gone out because I was still there. I’ve seen worse stoppages,” Adesanya told the media after his loss. “Fu*k, bring back Steve Mazagatti. Bring back Steve Mazzagatti, I would have been fine. You know, he might have won that round, but I would still be champion.”
This is just the second loss in Adesanya’s pro MMA career. It’s the first time he’s been stopped in a pro MMA fight. After the title match, UFC President Dana White said that he isn’t opposed to booking a rematch between Pereira and Adesanya. Time will tell if that’s ultimately the next direction for the UFC Middleweight Title picture.