Israel Adesanya is a UFC champion once again after delivering a vicious knockout to his greatest foe Alex Pereira late in the second round at UFC 287 in Miami.
The Nigerian-born fighter who grew up in New Zealand had lost his championship to the Brazilian in November last year but when he was backed against the cage he pulled off a spectacular KO which he said “was from the gods” in his post-fight interview.
Both fighters had a cautious first round with a barrage of leg kicks from both ends with Pereira targeting Adesanya’s right calf, much like he did in their last UFC bout.
They opened up in the second round, standing toe-to-toe and both landing punches, but it was when Adesanya was against the cage and wearing body shots when he unleashed two huge right-hand punches which stunned and then knocked down Pereira.
The 33-year-old then threw a hammer-fist while Pereira was on the mat and the referee quickly stopped the fight before he could land a second.
Adesanya celebrated his victory by mimicking shooting three arrows into his floored opponent, reclaiming his middleweight championship belt.
In the co-main event, Gilbert Burns put on a dominant performance against Jorge Masvidal, winning via unanimous decision in the welterweight division.
It would turn out to be Masvidal’s last fight in the UFC, with the veteran announcing his retirement after the fight. He fought 52 times, won 35 times with 18 of those knockout victories.
In the bantamweight division, Rob Font knocked out Adrian Yanez with a vicious right hook in the first round.
Earlier in the card, Christian Rodriguez defeated Raul Rosas Jnr via decision in the bantamweight division which went all three rounds while Kevin Holland knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio with a left-hook to the jaw in the third round of their welterweight bout.