Alex Pereira stopped Israel Adesanya in the fifth round to become the new UFC middleweight champion.
A flurry of punches from Pereira including an uppercut handed Adesanya his first defeat in the category and his third against the Brazilian after losses in 2016 and 2017.
Pereira becomes the new undisputed champion with just five fights in the UFC.
A visibly shaken, hurt and wobbly Adesanya could not keep up as the referee brought it to an end before the buzzer.
Pereira continues to have Adesanya’s number across combat sports. The two men met in the kickboxing ring, and the Brazilian came out on top both times, knocking Adesanya out in the rematch.
As it turns out, Pereira’s kickboxing and power have transitioned seamlessly to the MMA cage.
Pereira only needed seven professional fights and three wins in the UFC to earn a crack at Adesanya. Now, he’s the champion.
The loss ends a dominant reign over the division for Adesanya. He was going for his sixth consecutive title defense and will likely have an immediate rematch if he wants it. Pereira predicted before the fight it isn’t something the now-former champion will be interested in.
“It makes no difference who they want to put after [to challenge for the belt],” Pereira told MMA Junkie. “He deserves it, but after this fight, he isn’t going to want it.”
Given Adesanya’s competitive spirit, it’s hard to see him turning down a fourth opportunity to pick up a win against a man who has been a thorn in his side.
So while we are likely headed toward another matchup between the two strikers, Pereira’s win opens up many more possibilities.
Robert Whittaker, Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori are among the highest-ranked in the division, but Adesanya already held wins over each of them.
If Adesanya can’t solve the Pereira puzzle, the middleweight division is about to get really interesting.