Israel Adesanya has not shied away from his KO loss to Alex Pereira, admitting he has watched the stoppage over 20 times in the weeks since.
The former middleweight champion had seemed unbeatable at 185lb in the MMA cage, having only lost once when he attempted to move up to 205lb and become a two-weight world champion. But he had previously been beaten twice, including one brutal stoppage, by Pereira during his kickboxing days and knew the trilogy of sorts was a risk.
Pereira had only been fighting MMA for a fraction of the time Adesanya had when the pair met for the third time, and showed his inexperience early in the bout. But the champion couldn't hold on until the end of the fifth round and allowed a massive shot through with minutes to go to relinquish his title after three years atop the division.
During a breakdown on his YouTube channel FREESTYLEBENDER, Adesanya was asked how many times he had seen the stoppage, replying: "I don't know, about 20 just on Instagram. On the 'gram I've seen it because you get tagged in videos and s*** and you're just like 'huh,' so I watched it, I'm sure just over 20 or so times.
"I don't blame the referee because we were in the moment and I think it was a good stoppage. But I think he could have let it go on a little bit longer because, again, the fight with Kelvin Gastelum [when Adesanya won the interim title in 2018] if he takes the same approach he should have stopped it in the ten seconds right after I dropped him.
"There were literally ten seconds left after he's been dropped three times. But then if you look at that fight he got dropped three times prior and in the last ten seconds to get f***ing folded like an accordion? He still let it go on so if you'll give him that kind of courtesy you can give me a little bit."
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Adesanya admits, however, that most of this theorising around the fight is just his ego talking, adding: "What Dan [Hooker] said as a teammate and as a friend was he'd rather it be too soon than too late, which I think was pretty smart of him. But again, it's just my ego, I'm just like 'bro,' because nothing was hurting, I was rocked like 'oh s***', but could see things coming and I was like 'oh cool' and a few glancing shots hit my head.
"It wasn't like I was like 'oh s***', a few glancing shots hit my head, I put my head down and I swear to God, Wallahi, I put my head down because I was trying to make myself a smaller target. I tried to shrink my body in and I could see his arms, his feet and knew he wasn't about to knee, if he was going to do that his footwork would change.
"I would have been able to move back up or try something [if Pereira tried to knee], and prior to that I tried to move lateral and he rocks me. Then I stumbled and yeah, I was rocked, but I swear it was my leg. I was like 'ok, you can't move' so I stood right there and made myself smaller and didn't want to be a stationery target.
"Literally within one second of me putting my head down he stepped in and you can see me instantly react. I wasn't wobbling like 'ref, I'm okay,' I was, like, okay. Ah f***, man, I was just disappointed. Come on, fine, but again, I don't blame him because he saw me get hit, my eyes kind of rocked and then my head kind of goes down."