Israel Adesanya made no excuses following his dramatic fifth-round TKO loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281, and said he has no plans to step away following his middleweight title loss at Madison Square Garden.
Adesanya visited with the UFC’s Megan Olivi backstage following the bout in New York City, as he gave his immediate reaction to the fight, that saw him suffer his first MMA defeat as a middleweight.
“The fifth round, I was up (on the scorecards) and he hurt my perineal nerve, so that’s why my footwork wasn’t as sharp as I wanted it to be,” he explained.
“So I was trying to find ways to get off the fence, but my feet kept on dragging my left foot kept on dragging. And that’s why I tripped that that one time, as well.
“It’s really annoying, but yeah, it is what it is. But I’m still here. I’m not f**king leaving!”
Adesanya paid tribute to Pereira for his ability to bounce back after “The Last Stylebender” dominated the middle portion of the fight to sap the Brazilian’s gas tank, only for Pereira to find his second wind in the final round to get the last-gasp finish.
“He took me down at one point at the end of the round, but then I took him down in the third round, and I drained his enthusiasm, Adesanya said.
“But I’ll give him one thing, he knows how to recover. And it’s kind of like the same story as the last kickboxing fight we had. You know, I’m up, I’m having him, I’m staying focused, and he just catches me.
“But this time, I felt like I was there. I was really there. And firstly, I was telling Eugene (Bareman, his coach), ‘I’m fine,’ because, yeah, my head was still about me, but I think my eyes did ‘the thing’ a little bit, yeah.”
When referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off the fight, Adesanya immediately protested the stoppage. But, after taking time to process the final moments of the fight, and after consulting with his team, he said that he had no complaints with the stoppage.
“In the moment? Yes (I felt it was early), but I think I trust my coaches and my manager Ash when they said it was a good stoppage.”
As for what’s next, Adesanya was understandably non-committal, but said he’d likely look to book an immediate rematch in a bid to regain the title as quickly as possible
“Of course, I’ll probably get the rematch,” he said.
“But I’ll talk to my coaches first (and) my management, and see what we want to do next.”