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

Alex Pereira is the only person to knock out Israel Adesanya – and he’s done it twice.

Pereira picked up a win from behind over Adesanya at UFC 281 on Saturday night to become the new UFC middleweight champion inside Madison Square Garden.

The fight will be a bitter pill for Adesanya to swallow. Similar to their two kickboxing fights, Adesanya was winning the contest until it wasn’t. Adesanya nearly added to seven UFC 281 first-round stoppages with a one-two that got Pereira all sorts of trouble. Adesanya’s devastating shot came in the last second of the first round but he didn’t have enough time to capitalize. Pereira’s corner was panicked in their efforts to straighten their fighter’s head.

Pereira bounced back well in the second round. It was a competitive, if unspectacular, round that likely worked in the challenger’s favor. Adesanya scored the first takedown of his 14-fight UFC career in the third round and controlled Pereira decisively for the rest of the round. Adesanya tired Pereira with pressure, ground and pound and a nice chop at the end of round three.

Pereira was visibly worked in Round 4 and his production was severely limited. Adesanya was solid defensively, tackling his opponent in a round that was clearly his own. Pereira’s corner implored him to find the finish in round 5, aware that Adesanya likely had a 3-1 lead on the judges’ scorecards. The UFC broadcast confirmed after the fight that Adesanya was top on all three judges’ scorecards heading into the final frame.

Pereira answered the call, pelted Adesanya and shook him with heavy kicks against the fence. Adesanya desperately jumped and weaved but ate uppercuts and other big punches until the referee intervened.

Pereira thanked his teammates for the win and told UFC commentator Joe Rogan through a translator that he worked as hard in camp as he did in this fight. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira, Pereira’s main training partner, later told commentators of a conversation he had with Pereira between the fourth and fifth rounds.

“”Should I knock him out? ‘” Pereira asked Teixeira. “You better knock him out,” Teixeira replied.

Pereira (7-1) won the UFC middleweight championship in only his fourth UFC fight. Adesanya (23-2) has made five successful title defenses as a middleweight champion and has held the undisputed crown since October 2019.

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Elsewhere on the card, Zhang Weili regained her crown as the women’s strawweight champion with a second-round submission from Carla Esparza. Weili dominated grappling exchanges before locking in the rear naked choke. Weili, Esparza and Rose Namajunas have now traded the belt with each other in the last three bouts. And Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler delivered classic action before Poirier got the late submission.

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

UFC 281 card and results

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