This past Saturday, former middleweight champion Adesanya took on longtime rival Pereira in the headlining bout of UFC 281 at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York. Adesanya had Pereira hurt early and even managed to rock him at the end of the first round. He appeared to be on his way to getting the nod on the judges’ scorecards when a vicious flurry of punches that started with ‘Poatan’s signature left hook forced referee Marc Goddard to step in and call a stop to the contest.
Pereira secured the promotional gold in only his fourth outing under the UFC banner. It marked the third time Pereira defeated Adesanya in combat sports, having beaten him on two occasions in kickboxing, including a brutal left hook knockout. He also handed Adesanya the first defeat of his professional mixed martial arts career at 185 pounds.
Following the outcome, there was criticism from some fans and fighters who believed the referee may have stopped the fight too early.
White Reacts to Adesanya v Pereira Stoppage
At the post-fight press conference for UFC 280, White shared his thoughts on the stoppage of Adesanya’s title loss to Pereira.
“I didn’t have a problem with the stoppage,” said White. “He was hurt, he obviously wasn’t out but he seemed pretty hurt to me.”
White heaped praises on ‘Stylebender’ for his willingness to take the fight and his performance on the night.
“Israel was absolutely confident going into this fight, too,” White said (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “Never once did he look like he was scared of this guy or worried about it. He was picking him apart.
“I think going into that fourth round, if he was a little bit more aggressive in that fourth round, who knows what could have happened. But when you start getting into the fourth, you’re winning the fight and then you get to the fifth and basically all you’ve got to do is stay away from him in the fifth and you’re winning the fight. Sometimes that strategy doesn’t work out.”
White Hinted an Immediate Rematch Could Be Possible
Adesanya had proven to be a dominant champion. He cleared out top-ranked contenders and even beat some twice to assert his dominance. After his commanding reign ended, White expressed interest in potentially booking an immediate rematch between Adesanya and Pereira.
“I wouldn’t rule it out. You’ve got to show Israel [respect]. First of all, I was saying that this week and it’s the absolute truth, Israel Adesanya didn’t flinch about taking this fight. He likes to fight all the time. He took this fight. He wanted this fight. A lot of people talk publicly and it’s a whole different story behind the scenes.
“That guy’s an absolute stud. Always wants to stay active and a fight that most guys would stall, give me more time, this, that.
“He dove right into this fight. His only loss was when he tried to move up in weight to 205. You’ve got to respect him as a champ and what he’s done.”