Israel Adesanya KO’s Alex Pereira Cold to reclaim his UFC championship belt BACK #UFC287 (Video)

Israel Adesanya KO’s Alex Pereira Cold to reclaim his UFC championship belt BACK #UFC287 (Video)

“They say vengeance is sweet,” Israel Adesanya explained, “and if you know me, I have a sweet tooth… You already know how awesome this is.”

F***ing sweet because Alex Pereira represented not only the man who would dethrone him as middleweight champion but also the man who had already beaten him three times — twice in kickboxing.

On Sunday [AEST], Adesanya exorcised a demon, seemingly rising from the dead with a stunning second-round knockout victory over Pereira in the main event at UFC 287.

Adesanya was backed up against the cage, appearing to be in a vulnerable position and again at the mercy of the champion — but the challenger knew what he was doing along.

“Playing possum”, as Adesanya put it in his post-fight speech.

The new middleweight king then shut the lights out with a thundering right hand and followed it up again to send Pereira to the ground and reclaim his throne.

“I hope every one of you behind the screens or in this arena can feel this level of happiness just one time in your life,” Adesanya said, taking the microphone from Joe Rogan.

“I hope all of you can feel how f***ing happy I am just one time in your life but guess what? You’ll never feel this level of happiness if you don’t go for something in your life, when they knock down, when they s*** on you, when they talk s*** about you and try put their foot on your neck. If you stay down, you will never ever get that result.

“Fortify your mind and feel this level of happiness as you rise. One time in your life but I’m blessed to be able to feel this s*** again and again and again and again.”

The past defeats to Pereira may have had many doubting whether Adesanya would ever get to the top again but for the 33-year-old, it only made him stronger.

“Alex is a great champion no matter what,” Adesanya said.

“He lost the belt tonight but he’ll always be the champion. In his story I’m the antagonist, in his story I’m the bad guy but tonight it’s my story. History.

“I told you the hunter is now the hunted. Thank you for beating me. Beating me made me a better fighter, a better person. In this camp I didn’t f*** around. I stayed in the grind and put myself through it.”

Adesanya and Pereira traded calf kicks early in the first round, with the champion landing a heavy one just a few seconds into the fight.

That continued for much of the round with Pereira throwing kicks to the legs, having already found success with a similar strategy in slowing Adesanya down during their last fight.

It was a relatively uneventful first round in the sense there were no major moments for either fighter, making it a tough one to score, but the persistent calf kicks from Pereira were presenting an early test for the challenger.

Adesanya though answered that challenge and in a shocking way with a knockout that Rogan described as “one of the greatest” he had ever seen.

Daniel Cormier, meanwhile, said that Pereira “did not respect the power” that Adesanya had and was made to pay for it.

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