Israel Adesanya is back. The Last Stylebender reclaimed his middleweight throne with a second-round knockout win over Alex Pereira to close out UFC 287 from the Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida.
The first round started off slow and was difficult to score. Pereira opened with several low kicks that landed and Adesanya peppered in some punches, but there were few strikes of note.
The lull of the fight came to a sudden and violent end. Pereira pressured against the cage before Adesanya turned his lights out with an amazing knockout:
The win has to be a burden off of Adesanya’s shoulders. Pereira has been a proverbial thorn in his side throughout his martial arts career. The two fought twice when they were both kickboxers, and Pereira went 2-0 in those fights.
With Pereira winning the first one in the Octagon, this was a must-win for Adesanya.
Now the question shifts to what happens next for the champion. Only five months have passed since the two last fought. It certainly didn’t sound like he was interested in another immediate rematch.
At the UFC 287 weigh-ins, Adesanya noted the rematch meant “everything,” and it’s “one and done.”
It would probably be wise for the promotion to lay off the rivalry despite the split record in the Octagon. With the first two fights between them taking place in a short span, both could use a match against fresh faces before the rivalry is renewed.
Between the storied rivalry and Adesanya’s record of dominance in the middleweight division, it feels like we’ll be getting a fifth chapter of this rivalry eventually.