Alex Pereira is the new UFC middleweight champion, and it took a stunning turn of events to get him there.
Facing reigning middleweight champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 281, Pereira was on track for a loss by unanimous decision. He was down 39-37 on all three judges' scorecards going into the fifth round, which didn't start how he would have wanted it.
And then one of Pereira's crushing punches found home, and Adesanya wobbled. The ensuing flurry ended in a ref stoppage, the final stage of one of the most stunning ascents in recent MMA history. It would have been even wilder had we not seen a fifth-round KO of a top pound-for-pound champ three months ago.
— UFC (@ufc) November 13, 2022
Of course, one of the people who were already familiar with Pereira was Adesanya. Much of the run-up to the fight focused on the Brazilian's two wins over the champion during their kickboxing careers, and history repeated Saturday night.
The result is Pereira holding a belt after his fourth UFC fight. He got that quick title shot thanks to his dominance both as a kickboxer and in his three previous fights, but his win was still stunning given he was three minutes from losing.
Many in the MMA world were shocked by the ending:
— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) November 13, 2022
WOWWWWWWW ! 😱😱😱😱
— Javid Basharat (@JavidBasharat) November 13, 2022
Brazil has one more champ tonight! Congrats to pereira. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) November 13, 2022
Bro that fight was crazy!! Lived every minute of it!!! Congrats @AlexPereiraUFC
— Brian Ortega (@BrianTcity) November 13, 2022
Wow wow wow!! That power even when he looked completely gassed 😳
— Dricus Du Plessis (@dricusduplessis) November 13, 2022
Man just like their KB fight too…Izzy winning and then bam. This sport is wild! #UFC281
— Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (@WonderboyMMA) November 13, 2022
And then there was rising star Khamzat Chimaez, adding Pereira to the long list of fighters he has chellenged: