Adesanya stands over his defeated opponent in his iconic Naruto-inspired Rock Lee pose.
Defeat, to many, is the greatest motivator that one can experience. The drive to better oneself, or to get revenge on those who have wronged you in the past, can only arise once the sting of defeat has been tasted. For many, however, the dream of avenging a loss is just that: a dream. It is for this reason that we humans love a comeback story. We like to see people defeat the odds, take back what is theirs, or claim something they deserve. Such is the case with the recent fight between Israel Adesanya and his unofficial rival, Alex Pereira. Going into the fight, which took place on April 8, Adesanya’s fans were nervous that he would be unable to take down Pereira after their last bout in the UFC, in which Pereira won by TKO. This wasn’t the only other time the pair had fought, however. Adesanya had fought against — and lost to — Pereira two times before they ever fought in the UFC, as both fighters were originally kickboxers competing in the “Glory of Heros” event. With a total of three losses against Pereira, it was not looking good for Adesanya.
As the match began, Pereira came out strong with a flurry of power kicks to the legs, the same strategy he used in their last fight. In that fight, the kicks wore down Adesanya’s defense over time until there was an opening for Pereira to score his knockout. As the Brazillian went for this tactic a second time around, it seemed as if it would work again. The constant abuse of Adesanya’s legs was evident as he stumbled and struggled with kicks of his own, even causing his leg to buckle a few times. It was at one of these moments that Pereira went in for a brutal combo of punches, kicks, and knees; clearly trying to imitate his previous knockout. The offensive move left Pereira with one fatal flaw, however: he had dropped his defense. Thinking he had already won, Pereira didn’t bother to remain defensively responsible during his flurry, and Adesanya took the chance to strike back. Waiting for the right moment, Adesnya slipped one of Pereira’s punches and landed a devastating right-hand counter. Stumbling back, Pereira only had a second to regain his thoughts before a second right-hand put him down for good; bringing the match to a close in the second round.
Fans all around the world applauded Adesany’s performance as something straight out of a movie, akin to Rocky or Miracle on Ice. While some said that the win was deserved and that Adesanya made a brilliant tactical move by waiting for Pereira to get overconfident and sloppy before attacking, others believe that the win was a fluke. These people say that Pereira was destroying Adesanya for the entire fight up until Adesanay got a hit in, a hit many called “lucky.” In my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether or not the hit was “lucky” or if Adesanya won by “being a coward,” because at the end of the day, Israel is the one walking out of that ring with a belt, and that’s what really matters.