Sometimes, one fighter just owns the other. That appears to be the case when it comes to Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya.
At UFC 281 Saturday night, Pereira improved to 3-0 with a finish of Adesanya, winning the UFC middleweight title in the process. The bout headlined the ESPN+ pay-per-view from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Adesanya appeared to be well in control of the contest until late when Pereira caught him. While the two competed in kickboxing several years back, Pereira twice bested Adesanya.
The loss was the first for Adesanya in the 185-pound division in his career. Of his eight career combat sports defeats, Pereira now has a hand in three of them.
The co-main event saw a new – old – champion crowned as Zhang Weili reclaimed the strawweight belt. Weili locked up a second round submission over Carla Esparza when she secured a rear-naked choke.
Weili is now a two-time champion in the division, having also won the title in 2019 with a finish of Jessica Andrade.
In a featured bout, Dustin Poirier bested Michael Chandler, positioning himself in the lightweight division once more. “The Diamond” was able to lock in a rear-naked choke midway through the third round for the finish.
Chris Gutierrez sent Frankie Edgar into retirement, landing a flying knee just two minutes into the opening round. Edgar, a former UFC champion, had stated prior to the fight this would be his last.
Dan Hooker kicked off the main card with a finish of his own, stopping Claudio Puelles.
On the televised prelims, Renato Moicano, Ryan Spann, Erin Blanchfield and Andre Petroski were all winners. Spann knocked out former UFC title challenger Dominick Reyes in the first round.
For Reyes, this marked his fourth consecutive loss – and third by finish – since taking on then-champion Jon Jones for the belt in 2020. He also faced Jan Blachowicz later that year for the vacant title.
Matt Frevola, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Michael Trizano, Montel Jackson and Carlos Ulberg were also winners on the early prelims.
UFC 281 Results
Alex Pereira def. Israel Adesanya via TKO (strikes) at 2:01 of Round 5 to become the new UFC middleweight champion
Zhang Weili def. Carla Esparza via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:05 of Round 2 to become the new UFC strawweight champion
Dustin Poirier def. Michael Chandler via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:00 of Round 3
Chris Gutierrez def. Frankie Edgar via KO (flying knee) at 2:01 of Round 1
Dan Hooker def. Claudio Puelles via TKO (strikes) at 4:06 of Round 2
Renato Moicano def. Brad Riddell via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:20 of Round 1
Ryan Spann def. Dominick Reyes via KO (strike) at 1:20 of Round 1
Erin Blanchfield def. Molly McCann via submission (kimura) at 3:37 of Round 1
Andre Petroski def. Wellington Turman via unanimous decision
Matt Frevola def. Ottman Azaitar via KO (strike) at 2:30 of Round 1
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Silvana Gomez Juarez via unanimous decision
Michael Trizano def. Choi Seung-woo via KO (strike) at 4:51 of Round 1
Montel Jackson def. Julio Arce via unanimous decision
Carlos Ulberg def. Nicolae Negumereanu via KO (strike) at 3:44 of Round 1