UFC 281 Aftermath: Alex Pereira’s comeback win opens up world of opportunity for middleweight division


Whoa, boy! Things just got interesting.

In case you somehow missed it, Alex Pereira authored a tremendous fifth-round comeback stoppage of Israel Adesanya at UFC 281, wresting the middleweight title from “The Last Stylebender” and throwing the division into chaos. Now, the 185-pound weight class is governed by a man with only eight career MMA wins. His game is more complex than it seems.

Buddy, I am here for it.

*]Adesanya was an outstanding champion who is still one of the best fighters around. The truth is that the middleweight division was boring under his watch. This is not his fault. Long-reigning champions have the same problem. Interest is smothered by dominance, which Adesanya undoubtedly dominated, often to his disadvantage. We now have a champion with some clear liability (those grappling matches were poor), so guys will be lining up to try to take him down. These things are going to be very entertaining.

Be truthful: Who would you choose to beat if the UFC decided that Pereira was the winner? Pereira is likely to be the favourite, although no one would trust him. This would even apply when the world champion faces a man with less than one-year experience and three fights. This is electrifying!

After three years of being reasonably confident Adesanya was going to win, only being a matter of whether he did it by dynamic finish or controlled decision, having a champion who might be an underdog in his first title defense is fascinating stuff, especially because maybe he shouldn’t be. We truly know so little about Pereira as a fighter that if you said he was about to rattle off five title defenses or lose five straight, both are equally plausible. That maybe isn’t totally unprecedented (Brock Lesnar springs to mind), but this is rarified stuff, and it’s incredibly compelling.

* Other people may talk about Adesanya’s strategic decisions or be disappointed that such an inexperienced fighter won the title. MMA is meant to be entertaining and fun. With Alex Pereira’s turn on Saturday, MMA has become more fascinating and fun.

UFC 281 Quotes

“I tried to pace myself, but going into the last round, my corners and Glover kept it real with me.” – Alex Pereira on his fifth round comeback and knowing he needed a finish to win.

“F****** bring back Steve Mazzagatti.”Israel Adesanya on the stoppage in his loss to Alex Pereira.

” I wouldn’t rule out .” Dana White discusses the possibility of a rematch immediately between Pereira and Adesanya.

“A million Chinese MMA fan, they want a huge pay-per view event in China .”. Weili Zhang discusses her desires after reclaiming UFC’s strawweight title.

“Sorry you’re down there, but I didn’t create gravity.” – Michael Chandler on spraying Dustin Poirier with blood during their fight.

Stock Report

Stock Up

Alex Pereira: In only his fourth fight in the UFC and eighth fight overall, Pereira won the middleweight championship. There are still a ton of questions about the new champ, but “Poatan” proved that if nothing else, he is a legitimate threat to anyone at 185 pounds.

Zhang Weili: It was the outcome that was expected but, that didn’t make the victory any less sweet. Zhang reclaimed the strawweight title she lost to Rose Namajunas, becoming just the 13th fighter to reclaim a belt in the UFC.

Ryan Spann: After knocking out former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes in just 80 seconds, Spann explained his performance by saying this was the first fight he ever had a real training camp for. If we take him at his word, the light heavyweight division has officially been put on notice.

Erin Blanchfield: It’s tough for Blanchfield’s sky-high stock to rise any further, but her absolute demolition of the incredibly popular Molly McCann did it. McCann is a quality fighter, and Blanchfield ran through her with ease. At this point it’s not a question of if she fights for a title, but when.


Dustin Poirier: Poirier was expected to defeat Michael Chandler in a “Fight of the Year” candidate, and he did just that. Although some may want to give him a reward, Poirier just held his place in the ultra-deep waters division’s lightweight division.

Dan Hooker: Hooker’s second-round TKO was imperative to keep “The Hangman” as a going concern in the lightweight division. He’ll need to win a few more matches, given his tough start before the win.

Stock Down

Israel Adesanya Would Adesanya have managed to keep the fight alive and win a decisive victory over Pereira? We might sing a completely different song. But then again, if I had wheels, I’d be a wagon. Pereira was too content to concede ground, fight with his back against the fence, Adesanya did not press his benefits, and Pereira didn’t push his advantage. He was able to mess around like that for awhile, but eventually, “The Last Stylebender” found out.

Frankie Edgar: It’s hard to say that Edgar’s stock took a nose dive after Saturday since he’s retiring from the sport, but the way everything went down feels like it needs to be said. Three brutal KO losses in a row for the former lightweight champion, and in this one he looked old, and past it. The MMA gods are never gentle to the aging legends, and UFC 281 was no exception.

Brad Riddell: At one point in time, Riddell was a top-15 lightweight who looked like he could be a dark horse in the sport’s best division. His career is in jeopardy now that the City Kickboxing product has suffered three losses in succession, each by stoppage. It’s unclear what exactly has caused this precipitous drop-off for “Quake,” but he’s in dire straits at the moment, just like the final fighter of this section.

Dominick Reyes : Reyes suffered one of the greatest drop-offs recently, with four losses in succession, including three via devastating knockout. It seems unlikely that he can ever regain the magic which nearly saw him defeat Jon Jones. Instead, he will be left wondering what went wrong.

Official Matters

While UFC 281 was filled with early stoppages that mitigated the potential for referee and judging shenanigans, that doesn’t mean everything was perfect. Namely, there were three notable things that happened on Saturday. These are listed in ascending order of importance.

  1. The stoppage at the main event . Marc Goddard leapt in to rescue Adesanya, despite Adesanya being still on his feet. Izzy protested immediately and was not thrilled afterward. However, he accepted it. There is a case that Goddard could’ve let things play out for a few more moments, but in the end, the stoppage was fine.
  2. Post-Fight Bonuses. Alex Pereira and Weili Zhang got performance bonuses for their big finishes, and Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler took home “Fight of the Night” honors. While it’s hard to argue against any of those awards, it’s a little bit shameful that Ryan Spann, Erin Blanchfield, Chris Gutierrez, Matt Frevola, Michael Trizano, and Carlos Ulberg were left out in the cold. For such a big event, it would’ve been nice to see the UFC reward everyone who got a finish.
  3. Whatever the hell happened with the judging in Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez? In case you didn’t see it, it took the judges nearly five minutes for the preliminary strawweight fight scorecards to be tallied. A official entered the cage even to get the scorecard form Bruce Buffer to make any adjustments. The scene was very interesting, as both the fighters waited to find out who the winner. I have no idea what happened there, but it was weird.

Fights to Make

Alex Pereira vs. Robert Whittaker: While an immediate rematch may happen, Pereira is now 3-0 over Izzy. Let’s let Whittaker get his shot at the new champion while Adesanya rebuilds.

Weili Zhang vs. Amanda Lemos: Rose Namajunas might be the front-runner for the new champion, but I cannot fathom giving her a title fight coming off the worst performance in modern MMA history. Rose must beat somebody before she can get back in the ring, and Lemos just won a huge victory over who seemed to be next.

Dustin Poirier vs. Beneil Dariush: It’s a short turnaround, but book this for UFC Perth, and Dariush can serve as the backup for the lightweight title fight if anything happens.

Michael Chandler vs. Conor McGregor: Chandler has been calling for this one for a long time and now, the time is right. McGregor will return next year, and it promises fireworks. It’s worth it.

Chris Gutierrez vs. Adrian Yanez: Just imagine the striking!

Source: https://www.mmafighting.com/2022/11/14/23456135/ufc-281-aftermath-alex-pereira-comeback-win-opens-up-world-of-opportunity-for-middleweight-division?rand=96749