Israel Adesanya on TKO stoppage defeat at UFC 281: “Bring back Steve Mazzagatti”

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Israel Adesanya loses at 185 lbs for the first time ever at UFC 281

UFC 281 was a truly spectacular, one of a kind event that showcased 14 fights. 11 of those ended in finishes, including the final eight-straight bouts of the night.

Heading into our UFC middleweight championship main event between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, we’d already seen a title change hands in the strawweight division, where Weili Zhang became a two-time champion by defeating another two-time champion in Carla Esparza.

Adesanya nearly KO’d Pereira at the very end of the opening round, before ultimately losing the second. After dominating the third and fourth rounds, Adesanya was going into the fifth up 3-1. All he had to do was not get finished by a fatiguing Pereira.

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But, it appears Pereira was just reserving his energy, as he came out and TKO’d Adesanya in the fifth and final round to claim the UFC middleweight championship in just his eighth professional fight, defeating the no. 2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter on the planet in the process.

This also saw him improve to 3-0 in his series against Adesanya (2-0 kickboxing, 1-0 MMA).

The former champion was asked what his emotion was like following defeat at the UFC 281 post-fight press conference:

“I’m grateful. What a life, what a moment. F*cking crazy, isn’t it? Like, similar to the last time, same story.”

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Adesanya was then asked if it will be more challenging going into the rematch:

“No, I know what I can do. I mean the fight was going my (way), he hit my peroneal nerve. So that’s when my footwork was compromised. Even when I tripped and did the backwards roll, I had to do a fucking rolly polly ’cause I was like, ‘oh shit I just tripped over,’ and it’s not like me, so kudos to him for investing in those calf kicks ’cause yeah it cost me.”

Adesanya on the standing TKO stoppage: “My ego would say at least let me go out on my shield, but I don’t think I would’ve gone out ’cause I was still there. I’ve seen worse stoppages, f*cking bring back Steve Mazzagatti. Bring back Steve Mazzagatti, I would’ve been fine. He might’ve won that round but I’d still be champion.”

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Ironically enough, fellow former UFC champion, fellow pound-for-pound great, and fellow Nigerian Kamaru Usman also lost his belt earlier this year via knockout in the fifth round of a fight he was winning. Adesanya stated that he doesn’t know when he’ll be back to rematch the new champion, but did make it clear he’s next in line.

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