UFC 281 results, highlights: Alex Pereira rallies to stun, knockout Israel Adesanya and claim title

Alex Pereira is the only person to beat Israel Adesanya – and he did it twice.

Pereira scored a comeback victory over Adesanya at UFC 281 on Saturday night to become the new UFC champion at Madison Square Garden.

The fight will be a bitter pill for Adesanya to swallow. Just like in their two kicking battles, Adesanya won the contest until it wasn’t. Adesanya nearly added to UFC 281’s first seven-round stoppage with a one-two that had Pereira in all kinds of trouble. Adesanya’s nasty jab came second to last in round 1, but he didn’t have the necessary time to capitalize on it. Pereira’s corner panicked in their efforts to straighten their fighter’s head.

Pereira bounced back well in Round 2. It was a competitive, if unpredictable, round that was likely to favor the contestants. Adesanya scored the first stoppage of his 14-fight UFC career in the 3rd round and dominated Pereira the rest of the round. Adesanya wears Pereira down with pressure, ground-and-pound and some pretty impressive ax kicks at the end of Round 3.

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Pereira was heavily outworked in Round 4 and his production was very limited. Adesanya was good defensively, against the rotation he clearly was. A corner kick from Pereira begged to find the end of round 5, aware that Adesanya probably had a 3-1 lead on the judges’ scorecard. UFC Broadcaster confirmed after the fight that Adesanya was on all three judges’ scores heading into the final round.

Pereira answered the phone and hit Adesanya and rocked him with heavy shots from the fence. Adesanya desperately punches and weaves but eats high boots and other big shots until the referee intervenes.

Pereira thanked his teammates for the win and told UFC analyst Joe Rogan through an interpreter that he worked as hard in camp as he did for this fight. Former UFC champion Glover Teixeira, Pereira’s primary training partner, told analysts after a conversation with Pereira between the fourth and fifth rounds.

“Do I have to take him out?” Pereira asked Teixeira. “You better throw him out,” Teixeira replied.

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Pereira (7-1) captured the UFC middleweight title in just his fourth UFC fight. Adesanya (23-2) has managed five title defenses of the middleweight title and has held the undisputed crown since October 2019.

Can you get enough of boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of fighting games from two of the best in the business. Join Morning Kombat Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell The best analysis and in-depth news, including quick analysis of the UFC 281 final PPV event below.

Elsewhere on the card, Zhang Weili regained her women’s bantamweight crown with a second-round submission of Carla Esparza. Weili controlled the exchange before closing the open throttle at the rear. Weili, Esparza and Rose Namajunas have now traded belts between them in their last three fights. Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler put on a great performance before Poirier secured the final submission.

CBS Sports was with you all Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from UFC 281 below.

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UFC 281 card and results

  • Alex Pereira refused. Israel Adesanya (c) via fifth round TKO (boxing)
  • Weili Zhang refused. Carla Esparza (c) through second cycle transmission (rear open throttle)
  • Dustin Poirier declined. Michael Chandler through the third circuit transmission (rear open throttle)
  • Chris Gutierrez defended. Frankie Edgar via first knockout (knee)
  • Dan Hooker refused. Claudio Puelles out for a second-round exit (old kick)
  • Renato Moicano refused. Brad Riddell via submission in the first round (rear bare choke)
  • Ryan Spann refused. Dominick Reyes via first round knockout (boxing)
  • Erin Blanchfield defended. Molly McCann via first round submission (kimura)
  • Andre Petroski refused. Wellington Turman via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Matt Frevola refused. Osman Azatar via first round knockout (boxing)
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz refused. Silvana Gomez Juarez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Michael Trizano refused. Choi Seung-woo via first round TKO (boxing)
  • Montel Jackson refused. Julio Arce via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Carlos Ulberg refused. Nicolae Negumereanu via first round TKO (boxing)


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