Israel Adesanya’s Reclaims Middleweight Title With Knockout and Unique Tactic

Chantel Buchi
Apr 11, 2023
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Israel Adesanya shook the UFC world on April 8, 2023. It might even go down as one of the greatest moments in UFC history.

Adesanya reclaimed his Middleweight title from Alex Pereira, a man who has beaten Adesanya three times and the only fighter to knock out Adesanya in his long combat-fighting career (and twice, at that).

This time, Adesanya was the one handing out a KO. 

Adesanya came into UFC 287 as a slight favorite, but he also went into this fight with revenge on his mind and a unique tactic to defeat his nemesis.

Let’s weigh in on the details. 

Before we do, I have to revel a little in my correct prediction-making:

But if you ask me, I’d say Adesanya returns with a vengeance. If he’s the athlete we all think he is, he’s working twice as hard, twice as much, and twice as smart. He doesn’t want to be defeated again, and he wants nothing more than to get his title back.”

How did Israel Adesanya win in UFC 287?

Adesanya became the Middleweight champion again after knocking out Pereira. 

But it wasn’t just any knockout; it was one combined with training and a brilliant ploy.

Pereira had Adesanya against the cage, hitting him with a few solid punches and a knee, while—Adesanya would explain in his post-fight interview—Adesanya played possum.

Adesnya put his arms in front of his face as if he was hurt and needed to shield himself from the blows. But after those few hits from Pereira, Adesanya came out of his “defense” and countered with two right hands—one that made Pereira stumble back and the second landing on his temple to knock him out at four minutes and 21 seconds of the second round.

Adesanya came down with a hammerfist on Pererira before the referee pulled him off to stop the fight. 

That Last Stylebender won with not only physical talent and intelligence but the mental strength one has to have to enter that octagon given his and Pereira’s past—it’s unmatched.

Israel Adesanya’s powerful celebration

Izzy had a respectably long and very well-thought-out celebration, one that you could tell he was itching to do.

When Pereira walks out of the tunnel, his iconic move is to shoot an aggressive hypothetical arrow at his opponent in the ring or octagon. 

So, after Adesanya knocked The Poatoan out cold, Adesanya instantly started aiming multiple hypothetical bow and arrows at Pereira.

What came next in his celebration was stewing in his mind for six years.

He did another imitation, but here’s a quick background to understand: 

In 2017 when Pereira knocked out Adesanya in a kickboxing match, Pereira’s young son came into the ring and mocked how Adesanya fell during that KO.

So, while Pereira was gaining consciousness after Izzy knocked him out, he beelined to the side of the octagon where Pereira’s son was, pointed at him, and then mocked how his father fell in the knockout of that night. 

In the post-fight press conference, Adesanya said, “I’m petty. I remember.” The Last Stylebender finished it off by quoting Michael Jordan: “… and I took that personally.”

Adesanya had already planned this intense celebration before entering the Kayesa Center in Miami for UFC 287, and he delivered.

Israel Adesanya’s closing words

Adesanya said two things to the camera and the audience that gave me goosebumps.

Right after teaching Pereira’s son a little lesson, he looked into the camera and said, “Believe in yourself!” If you truly understand the history between Adesanya and Pereira and you were watching this in real-time, you probably also got goosebumps. Maybe even felt like you could pick up a car or run a 5:40 mile. I know I did. 

He had the opportunity to silence all of the doubt, and he did just that. 

And secondly, to open his post-fight interview, he said something I believe all people of this world should adhere by:

"I hope every one of you behind the screen, in this arena, can feel this level of happiness just one time in your life," Adesanya said in his postfight interview. "I hope all of you can feel how f---ing happy I am just one time in your life. … But you never feel this level of happiness if you don't go for something."

Chantel Buchi
Written by
Chantel Buchi
Chantel is all about finding the best tv or streaming service to watch as many football games as possible to keep her Fantasy Football team in check. Prior to being a TV and Streaming Tech Reporter for, she worked for NFL Network and The Alliance of American Football. Before that, she received a B.A. of Communication at the University of Utah and an M.S. in Sports Journalism at USC. Go Utes and Fight On. Contact her at

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