This past Saturday, Adesanya faced longtime rival Pereira in the headlining bout of UFC 281 at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York. He went into the outing looking to avenge his two losses to Pereira and add a seventh title defense under his belt. Although Adesanya appeared to be on his way to getting the nod on the judges’ scorecards, Pereira scored a standing TKO finish in the final round to become the new middleweight champion in only his fourth showing under the banner.
Pereira now holds a total of three wins over Adesanya; two in kickboxing, including a vicious left hook knockout, and one in mixed martial arts. He fired shots at ‘Stylebender’ during the build-up with clips mocking the Nigerian-Kiwi’s training footage and other antics.
Following the result, company president Dana White indicated an immediate title rematch would not be out of the question.
Adesanya Reveals What He Told Pereira After UFC 281 KO Loss
In an appearance on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, Adesanya talked about his conversation with ‘Poatan’ after their fight.
“I told him after the fight, when I took a bow to the crowd,” said Adesanya. “He came up to me and said, ‘respect.’ I was like, ‘it’s okay. I don’t like you, you don’t like me but respect.’ And we shook hands.”
Adesanya believes he was in great condition and praised Pereira’s calf kick heavy gameplan to damage his legs.
“I did everything in my power to make sure I was ready for this fight,” said Adesanya. “I was the best I’ve ever felt. Literally the best I’ve ever felt. I got compromised. It was a smart move. Because a guy like me, with great footwork, what do you do? Take away the tires. So early on he did, and I didn’t think it was going to affect me, but it paid dividends.”
Adesanya Does Not Blame the Referee but Says He Was Not Wobbled From the Punches
In the fifth round, ‘Poatan’ backed Adesanya against the cage and unloaded a flurry of punches, which included a big left hook, forcing referee Marc Goddard to step in and call a stop to the contest.
While Adesanya does not blame Goddard, he claims he was waiting to do his work.
“I can’t blame him, though,” Adesanya said (transcribed by MMA Fighting). “You saw me in the Gastelum fight. He reffed the Gastelum fight. He should have stopped the Gastelum fight. … Literally, I was looking and I was like, ‘OK, he’s going to swing and miss, and swing and miss, and when he gets tired, he’s either going to clinch, and I’m going to take him down, or I can get the angle on him and hit him and then do my work, put him on the fence.’
“Again, I’m a champion. I don’t blame him. Marc’s a good referee. But you reffed the Gastelum fight, you’ve seen where I can go to, you should have that kind of faith in me. Also, you gave Kelvin Gastelum every chance, after he got the most in any title fight in the UFC’s history. I didn’t get dropped.
“Yeah, I got wobbled, but I wobbled because of my leg. … Again, you’re under the pump, it’s a big show, it is what it is.”