Israel Adesanya reflects on his loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281: “There’s a sense of gratitude and relief”

Israel Adesanya, Alex Pereira, UFC 281

The title reign of Israel Adesanya came to an end at UFC 281. The 33-year-old was knocked out by Alex Pereira after controlling most of the fight. 

He made a guest appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, where he described the feeling of losing the UFC middleweight title.

 “Life’s great…Every Time before I get on a plane, I feel like I’m going to war,” Adesanya said. “Afterwards, win, lose or draw there’s a sense of gratitude and relief that I’m here, I’m healthy, I didn’t have to go to the hospital, I did very well and I get to go home to my family and friends.”

Adesanya was close to finishing Pereira with an overhand right and left hook at the end of the first round but his rival survived. ‘The Last Stylebender’, known as an elite striker, showcased his wrestling and secured the first takedown of his UFC career. Adesanya’s elite head movement and counter-punching were also on display. 

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All signs pointed to Adesanya adding to his legendary run as champion until the final round. Pereira pressured the former champion against the cage and caught him with a vicious combination that ended the fight. His comeback victory was similar to the second kickboxing meeting in 2017. Pereira now has an MMA and two kickboxing victories over Adesanya. 

In the fourth round, Adesanya seemed to throw a leg kick that hurt him. He fell backwards but rushed up to avoid getting blitzed. He credits Pereira’s leg kicks as a factor behind the stoppage in the final round. 

He damaged me in the sense that it compromised my footwork… It wasn’t from the check. It’s because when you kick you’re balancing on one leg and the leg was already compromised. My PCL was already hurt from my previous fight and it got damaged again through the fight.”

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Israel Adesanya Believes He Could’ve Continued

When asked about the referee’s stoppage, Adesanya says he was moving around in the final seconds to avoid getting hit and he was okay.

I don’t blame him. Mark’s [Goddard] a good referee…but you refereed the [Kelvin] Gastelum fight. You’ve seen where I can go to. You should have that kind of faith in me and 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. Yeah, I wobbled but I wobbled because of my leg.”

Adesanya says he thinks he’d fight Pereira two more times. He hasn’t thought about when he would like to step back in the octagon but he wants to run it back against his rival next. 

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I’ll still fight him. I’m crazy bro. I can beat him. I know I can beat him, You’ve seen I can beat him. I wouldn’t say luck. He just invested well [into] a good game plan. He’s a good fighter. It’s my ego, maybe sure but I’m allowed. I just believe I’m better.”

The Nigeria native defended the undisputed middleweight title five times since winning it at UFC 243.