UFC 287: Israel Adesanya reclaims title from Alex Pereira with spectacular knockout
Israel Adesanya reclaimed his middleweight title from long-time bitter rival Alex Pereira with a spectacular knockout at UFC 287 in Miami, Florida.
With his back against the cage in round two, Adesanya, 33, unleased two crushing right hands to send Pereira, 35, to the canvas.
The victory avenges three previous defeats for Adesanya against Pereira.
He lost twice in kickboxing in 2016 and 2017, and at UFC 281 in November.
That most recent defeat inside the octagon saw Brazil’s Pereira earn a stunning fifth-round knockout to win the title.
“I hope every one of you can feel this level of happiness for one time in your life,” said Nigeria-born New Zealander Adesanya.
“But guess what – you’ll never feel this level of happiness if you don’t go for something in your life. When they knock you down, if you stay down you will never get that resolve.
“Fortify your mind and feel this level of happiness. I’m blessed to feel this again and again and again.”
In the co-main event, Brazil’s Gilbert Burns beat hometown favourite Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision and then called for a title fight with British welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
UFC president Dana White has previously said American Colby Covington is next for Edwards but a second successive win for the fifth-ranked Burns, 36, could put him in the title picture.
“I am the only guy in the whole UFC who is willing to fight anyone at any time,” said Burns.
“If they call me to fight the devil you know what I’m going to say. That being said, Leon Edwards, I’m coming for you.”
Masvidal, 38, announced his retirement following a distinguished 20-year career which has yielded 35 wins from 52 fights.