Alex Pereira: ‘My corners and Glover kept it real with me’ heading into 5th round with Israel Adesanya


Alex Pereira remembers well the conversation he had with Glover Teixeira and his other corners going into the fifth round of his UFC 281 title fight with Israel Adesanya.

The urgency of the situation came across in former champ Teixeira’s voice after four rounds of action with Adesanya. Pereira and the ex-light-heavy champ didn’t know he was trailing by three to one. But they knew that if they didn’t do something drastic, they figured things wouldn’t go their way.

” I knew that it would be hard,” Pereira stated via translator. “I tried to pace myself, but going into the last round, my corners and Glover kept it real with me. I looked at him and said, ‘Do I have to knock him out?’ And Glover said, ‘You do have to knock him out.’ And then I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.'”

After four rounds of action in which Adesanya played matador and once stung Pereira with a last-second barrage, the middleweight title challenger went right to work and landed the pivotal blows that set in motion a fifth-round TKO. With one defense lapse, the dominant champion was eliminated in the last round for the second year in a row.

Adesanya immediately protested the call from referee Dan Miragliotta, but Perreira argued it was “absolutely correct.”

” People can speak whatever they want, but Izzy took some very heavy hits,” Pereira stated. “The referee exists for a purpose, to protect you. So I think it was absolutely correct.”

Pereira disagreed that Pereira was in a losing situation. He pointed to his work on the champion’s legs, kicking them so frequently that Adesanya later said his peroneal nerve was compromised. And there was the wrestling that no one expected him to use, a surprise as he fought off several Adesanya takedowns and delivered one of his own.

“Maybe they also tricked his mind, to the point where he had to be more aware of things, and I knocked him out in the last round,” Pereira said.

But those victories were built upon the foundation of a failure at his combination in round one, leaving him with visible wobbling.

“Very….very,” he said when asked how badly he was hurt. It hurt me very much. It hurt me a lot, I won’t lie. But with that said, I think it helped me stay sharper, stay with it, and then I started to put more pressure, and also make him work more, which I think I was able to get him a little more tired, too.”

Pereira was a winner over Adesanya on three occasions before after two victories in kickboxing. However, this one was in a much bigger venue, with a completely different sport and faced steeper odds.

” “A lot of emotions were going through my mind,” he stated about the outcome. “So many years of hard work and dedication, and here I am, champion of the world.”

White pointed out Pereira’s corner speech to be a “straight from a movie” moment that changed the tide. Kamaru Usman lost by head-kick the last time this happened after Leon Edwards gave the inspirational speech of a life.

It was the middleweight champion on his way to his sixth title defense.

Teixeira couldn’t help himself afterward and leaped over the octagon to congratulate his charge.

White considered a rematch immediately after the sudden turn of events. According to the UFC executive, given Adesanya’s fame as champion and the current fight, it wouldn’t surprise that Adesanya would be fighting White again.

Pereira didn’t need any additional pep talk to take another crack at his three-time foe.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “They choose who I’m going to fight, and if that’s the fight they’re going to do, I’m going to be ready.”