On one of the most chaotic nights in UFC history, multiple divisions were thrown on their heads, but none more than the men’s middleweight division, which saw its incumbent champion fall to his combat sports kryptonite.
One of only two men to ever defeat Israel Adesanya, Alex Pereira followed the champion from kick-boxing - where he twice defeated him - to complete the trilogy in the UFC ring under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in New York.
It is easily one of the most seismic wins in a long time, especially when you consider the personal history between the two fighters and the fact that Adesanya up to this point had a record of 23 wins and just one loss in MMA, his sole defeat coming when he attempted to make the leap to light-heavyweight.
When asked about the ramifications of this fight to the middleweight division, UFC president Dana White was quick to compliment Adesanya’s willingness and did not rule out allowing the fighters to have an immediate rematch.
“First of all, I was saying this week and it’s the absolute truth, Israel Adesanya didn’t even flinch about taking this fight, he likes to fight all the time, he wanted this fight, a lot of people talk publicly and it’s a whole different deal behind the scenes,” White said.
“This guy is an absolute stud, always wants to stay active and a fight most guys would stall, he went right into.
“I wouldn’t rule out [running it back]… I think that’s what makes this sport so great.
“Israel was absolutely confident going into this fight, not once did he look scared of this guy, and he was picking him apart, I think that going into the fourth round if he was a bit more aggressive, who knows.”
When asked if he would have any trouble motivating Adesanya to take other fights if a Pereira rematch does not materialise, White did not seem troubled, answering with one word: “money”.
While UFC fans will be eager to see a rematch between these two, White also seems keen to involve some of the other middleweight fighters, acknowledging that a new champion means that the division can open up again.
“It always does, it is what it is, if Izzy wins it’s a great thing, if Pereira wins it’s a great thing, it’s part of the business, there’s always great fights to make, especially in that division there’s so many savages in that top seven,” White said.
Dana White also spoke at length about future locations for the UFC, stating that he was eager to bring the UFC to Africa, which produced three of the most dominant fighters in recent memory in Francis Ngannou, Kamaru Usman, and the aforementioned Adesanya.
“I’m so focused on Africa right now, I want to do Africa so bad, that’s sort of my focus,” White said.
“Nigeria is what we’re thinking… at the end of the day we’re pretty crafty, we’ll figure it out.”