UFC 281: Pereira stuns Adesanya to claim UFC middleweight crown

Nigeria’s Israel Adesanya has lost his middleweight title to Brazil's Alex Pereira in the main event of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 281 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.

Adesanya had been winning the fight until the final sequence, with Pereira pulled off a stunning comeback to knock out Israel Adesanya in the fifth round with Adesanya hurt against the cage.

The 33-year-old Nigerian was seeking revenge after losing two fights to the Brazilian in kickboxing back in 2016 and 2017.

Referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop it after a flurry of left hooks and right hands.

Adesanya was up 39-37 on all three judges’ scorecards heading into the fifth round.

Pereira becomes middleweight champion in only his eighth professional MMA bout.

Behind on the judges' scorecards and running out of steam, Pereira unleashed a stunning combination of strikes in the final round to dethrone Adesanya, who had held the title for 3-1/2 years, in only his eighth professional MMA bout.

"I feel so good, I've been training all my life, I worked so hard for this," an elated Pereira said in his post-fight interview.

In the co-main event China's Weili, who lost the strawweight belt to Rose Namajunas in April 2021, out-muscled Esparza, taking her back early in the second round before sinking in a rear naked choke to finish the bout and reclaim the belt.

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