Alex Pereira scores fifth-round finish to win middleweight title

Despite Israel Adesanya being in control for a good chunk of the fight, Alex Pereira is now 3-0 against him, this time taking the middleweight championship at UFC 281.

In just his eighth MMA fight, and only his fourth fight in the UFC, Alex Pereira is the UFC middleweight champion, scoring a come-from-behind, fifth-round finish of Israel Adesanya to capture the title in the main event of UFC 281.

Pereira becomes the fastest to go from a professional MMA debut to a UFC championship since Brock Lesnar became UFC heavyweight champion in 2008.

The two started the bout fighting stiffly as they felt one another out, with some notable low kicks coming from Pereira. Adesanya started to come through some with his patient attacks, forcing Pereira to react and stepping him back with a hard jab to the face. Pereira tried to counter, however, with a few kicks to the body and legs.

In the closing seconds of the first, Pereira locked up with Adesanya body-to-body and landed several hard shots to the body. Suddenly, right before the horn, Adesanya rocked Pereira with a right hand behind the ear of Pereira and a left hook — the latter of which seemed to land after the horn.

Alex Pereira ends the middleweight title reign of Israel Adesanya in fifth-round, comeback fashion

Pereira tried to leave no space for Adesanya in the second, throwing to the body and just missing a spinning back kick to the head. Pereira clinched up with Adesanya against the cage wall, landing on the body again before Adesanya reversed it. Upon the clinch break, Adesanya landed a notable right hand before more in-close fighting. In the closing seconds of the round, Pereira wobbled Adesanya a bit with a high kick before landing a takedown.

Adesanya caught Pereira rushing in during the third round and got to Pereira’s back, landing some ground-and-pound. Pereira was troubled but managed to get back to his feet. Pereira looked to reverse for a leg lock, however, he gave it up and Adesanya got back in control. Adesanya landed an axe kick and follow-up shots before the round’s end.

Pereira attempted to get back into his advantageous in-close position in the fourth, but Adesanya began to open up on Pereira, who looked fatigued and slowed. Pereira fought back and threw some hard shots, but it wasn’t enough.

That was, until the fifth round. In about two minutes of the final frame, Pereira rocked Adesanya and landed a flurry of shots against the cage until the referee stepped in, crowning a new champion.

UFC 281: Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira takes place on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, live from Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. Follow along with FanSided MMA for all your news and highlights.

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