Alex Pereira has told rival Israel Adesanya that the referee "saved his life" by stopping their UFC title fight in the final round.
Adesanya was looking to defend his UFC middleweight title at UFC 281 against long-term rival Pereira in New York last weekend, but was stopped in the final round. Pereira inflicted a third defeat on Adesanya throughout his career in combat sports, with the Nigerian having already lost twice to 'Poatan' during their days in the kickboxing ranks.
After reflecting on the contest Adesanya claimed he was disappointed with referee Marc Goddard for bringing the fight to a halt before the bell, demanding that previous official Steve Mazzagatti is in place for future fights. However Pereira has hit out at his rival's "excuses' and wants him to accept defeat ahead of another rematch.
He posted on Instagram : “Adesanya stop making excuses saying that the referee stopped the fight early, you have to thank him for saving your life. The way you were with your head down looking at the ground, I only needed one or two more hits to connect a good knee to your face so we wouldn’t know the outcome.
"As I said at that point in the video, you were a great opponent and I respect you for that. Assume the mistakes along with your team without taking away my merits. You will have one more chance! You’re next!”
Pereira was down on the judges scorecards going into the final round with Adesanya having controlled large parts of the UFC title fight, but his power was always expected to be a key factor. And he detonated some huge shots in the final round to close the show, with Adesanya left defenceless on the side of the cage.
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The pair had taken part in a fiery build-up with both men promising to end the contest inside the distance, and Pereira even continued the war of words during the fight when he threatened to "kill" Adesanya. The rivalry does not appear over with 'The Last Stylebender' clearly set to receive an opportunity to avenge the defeat.
And he believes he is the man capable of inflicting a first UFC defeat on Pereira, who marched to the title with just four wins. . “I’ll watch the fight again,” he said on the MMA Hour. “I haven’t watched the fight again, but I don’t think I’m going to fixate on it, because it’s not one of these things that’s like, ‘Oh, goddamn it!’ I’ll fight him again. I’ll probably fight him two more times.
“I’ll still fight him. If he was going to fight someone else and lose the belt, I’ll still fight him [next]. I’ll fight him. I hope he’s the champion, but I’m just saying, hypothetically, I’ll still fight him. I’m crazy, bro. I can beat him. I know I can beat him. You’ve seen I can beat him."