Very few sports possess the sheer unpredictability and edge-of-the-seat nature that the UFC enjoys, with every bout as enthralling and barbaric as the next.
However, the UFC middleweight division was in danger of becoming somewhat pedestrian, as Nigerian fighter Israel Adesanya tore up all in front of him for a couple of seasons, to be one of the standout fighters on the planet.
Aside from one shock defeat to Jan Blachowicz in 2021, Adesanya had never looked troubled in the UFC octagon, with the aforementioned loss coming by unanimous decision.
Madison Square Garden however witnessed one of the most seismic shifts in recent UFC history at UFC 281, as Alex Pereira displayed a devastating array of speed and power to humble Adesanya, knocking him out in the 5th round.
A sight very few had seen before was the seemingly untouchable Adesanya flawed by accurate, powerful punching and a new star was instantly born.
To many in the world of UFC, the emergence of Alex Pereira was hardly a surprise, the Brazilian has long been touted as one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet.
However, all of his prior success had come in the world of kick-boxing and many experts weren’t sure if Pereira would be able to successfully transfer his skill set into the highly volatile world of UFC.
It appeared at first as if they were right, with Pereira losing his first professional UFC bout to Quemuel Ottoni in 2015 and with some underwhelming results following, it looked as if Pereira’s experiment in the world of MMA hadn’t paid off.
However, he came back with a vengeance in 2020 and he has won all of his professional fights since, including his famous win over Adesanya in New York.
It also begs the question for both Pereira and the now humbled Adesanya, as to what their next fights will be and when they will take place.
The classic nature of the fight at UFC 281 in New York naturally lends itself to a clamor for a re-match, something Adesanya is sure to be keen to pursue, as he looks to claim his titles back.
At -105, Pereira starts as the slight favorite for the rematch, especially with his incredible hitting power sure to still be there if the two fighters were to go again.
Adesanya meanwhile starts as the opposite, at +105 odds with NY sportsbooks and the similarities between the odds, are representative of just how well matched these two fighters are.
Knocking Israel Adesanya off his perch is something very few fighters have been able to do and he is sure to come back with an alternative game plan, should he and Pereira face off in the near future.
Other names in the division looking for a notable scrap include Robert Whittaker and Paolo Costa and with the two set to meet in 2023, the middleweight division has 4 fighters capable of sitting top of the rankings.