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UFC: Pereira knocks out Adesanya again, dethrones Nigerian champion

Alex Pereira maintained his dominance over Israel Adesanya by knocking out the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight champion in the fifth round of their headline bout at UFC 281 in New York, United States of America in the early hours of today.

Pereira, who had beaten Adesanya twice in their kickboxing days and the only man to have stopped the Nigerian in any fight, knocked out the champion for a second time with a stunning combination of strikes in the final round.

The Brazilian was behind on the judges’ scorecards and looked to be running out of energy before unleashing a devastating barrage of punches in the closing stages which forced the referee to stop the fight, dethroning Adesanya.

The Nigerian-New Zealander had held the title for three-and-a-half years and Pereira becomes the middleweight champion in only his eighth professional Mixed Martial Arts bout.

Adesanya’s loss ended his middleweight win streak at 12 fights, only one short of Anderson Silva’s record in the division.

“I feel so good, I’ve been training all my life, I worked so hard for this,” Pereira said in his post-fight interview.

In the first round, Adesanya landed a huge right hand and followed it up with a left hook to the jaw that almost ended the fight, but Pereira was saved as the horn sounded to end the round.

Pereira recovered in the second round, but the fight went in Adesanya’s favour in the third as he landed a takedown early and exerted heavy pressure on his opponent, forcing him to carry his weight and landing shots from the back.

After winning the fourth round comfortably, Adesanya appeared to be cruising towards a decision victory until Pereira, who has a previous knockout win over him in kickboxing, rocked him with a right hand and followed it up with a flurry of damaging punches to claim the belt.

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Naija Times