Former UFC champion Israel Adesanya has lost his position atop the middleweight category to Alex Pereira in the most recent 2023 rankings.
At UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, USA, the Nigerian-born New Zealander lost his belt to his Brazilian opponent.
The middleweight champion Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC), who led Pereira 3-1 on the judges’ scorecards in their title match, was halted in Round 5 of their fight. Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) had Adesanya rocked and severely injured three minutes into the last session, resulting in a standing TKO victory for him.
Adesanya is now number two and for the first time since unifying the belt in 2019, Adesanya is no longer sitting atop the middleweight division and is now the No.1 contender.
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Adesanya, however, continues to be a slight betting favourite to ultimately exact revenge on the former in an anticipated title rematch this year.
Adesanya, who is attempting to return to the winner’s circle for the first time as a middleweight in his mixed martial arts career, is anticipated to face Pereira in the summer and is currently a -150 favourite over the champion, who is a +130 underdog.