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

Alex Pereira recalls the discussion he had with Glover Teixeira and his other corners before the fifth round of his title match against Israel Adesanya at UFC 281.

After four rounds of combat with Adesanya, former champion Teixeira's voice conveyed the severity of the situation. Pereira and the former light-heavyweight champion were unaware of his three-to-one deficit at the moment. However, they were aware that if they didn't take dramatic action, things wouldn't happen as planned.

“I knew it was going to be a very hard fight,” Pereira said via a 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 warfare, during which Adesanya played the bullfighter and once pounced on Pereira with a last-second assault, the middleweight title contender got right to work and delivered the crucial blows that precipitated a fifth-round TKO. A strong champion was eliminated in the final round for the second time this year due to one defensive slip-up.

Referee Dan Miragliotta's decision was immediately contested by Adesanya, but Pereira insisted it was "totally correct."

“People can say whatever, but Izzy was taking some pretty heavy hits,” Pereira said. “The referee is there for a reason, to keep you safe. So I think it was absolutely correct.”

Pereira disagreed that he was in an unwinnable situation because of how far behind he was. He described how he had kicked the champion's legs so much that Adesanya afterward claimed his peroneal nerve had been damaged. And then there was the wrestling, which was a surprise as he resisted several takedown attempts from Adesanya and successfully executed one of his own.

These accomplishments, however, were also based on a clear failure in the combination he chose to close the first round, which left him noticeably unsteady.

“Very....very,” he said when asked how badly he was hurt. “It hurt me a lot. I’m not going to 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.”

After two victories in the kickboxing ring, Pereira had previously rejoiced in triumph over Adesanya on three separate occasions. But this one was in a completely different sport, on a much larger stage, and had much worse odds.

White cited Pereira's corner speech as a turning event that was "right out of a movie." When that happened previously, Kamaru Usman was knocked out in the fifth round by a head kick after Leon Edwards had heard the motivational speech of a lifetime. But this time, a middleweight champion making his sixth title defense was the target.

After that, Teixeira couldn't resist but celebrate his teammate by leaping over the octagon.

The unexpected turn of events led White to consider a rematch right away. According to the UFC official, a fourth bout between the two wouldn't be unthinkable given the way the fight was progressing and Adesanya's standing as a champion.

Pereira didn't require any extra motivation to take another swing at his three-time adversary.

“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.”


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