Israel Adesanya’s career could have ‘ENDED’ if the referee didn’t intervene during his UFC title fight with Alex Pereira, says Firas Zahabi… as he claims ‘Stylebender’ should be ‘grateful’ for stoppage decision
- Israel Adesanya suffered defeat to long-term rival Alex Pereira in their title fight
- ‘Stylebender’ had been on top in the bout before a brutal TKO stoppage late on
- There had been debates whether referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight early
- Firas Zahabi says Pereira could have ‘ended Adesanya’s career’ if they continued
Israel Adesanya’s career could have ‘ended’ if the referee didn’t intervene during his UFC title fight with Alex Pereira, according to Firas Zahabi.
Long-term rivals Adesanya and Pereira went head-to-head on Saturday in a showdown for the UFC middleweight belt, where the latter emerged victorious after a brutal TKO stoppage late in the bout.
Despite claims that referee Marc Goddard called an end to the fight prematurely, Zahabi – who has trained some of the sport’s biggest names – insists Adesanya should be ‘grateful’ for the decision.
Israel Adesanya has been told his career could have ‘ended’ in his recent UFC title fight
The Kiwi fighter was dethroned by long-term rival Alex Pereira in a brutal five-round clash
Firas Zahabi (left) claims that Adesanya should be grateful for the referee’s intervention
Analysing the fight on his YouTube channel, Zahabi said: ‘Pereira could have very possibly ended Adesanya’s career if the referee did not intervene.
‘Guys, if the referee did not intervene, a scissor knee was coming. Guys, the greatest scissor knee I have seen in all of combat sports, ever, is Alex Pereira.
‘It’s an incredible knee from a giant, who’s incredibly explosive. He throws it incredibly quick. I thought when Adesanya was dazed like that, the knee was coming.’
In the fifth round, the bout was called to an end after Pereira unleashed a flurry of brutal shots with no reply from the defending champion. Adesanya kept his head low and looked to avoid shots, which Zahabi thinks could’ve ended disastrously.
Adesanya was forced back onto the cage as Pereira unleashed a flurry of brutal strikes
Referee Marc Goddard stepped in to spot the bout though some argued it was premature
He continued: ‘If Marc Goddard did not step in, it could have been a serious concussion, broken jaw, broken orbital, or fractured skull even.
‘It could have been something that ruined or ended Adesanya’s professional career. So I’m very grateful that Marc Goddard stopped it.’
Pereira now has a win in MMA over Adesanya to go with his two triumphs in kickboxing before the pair changed sports.
Adesanya’s loss has seen him plummet down the pound-for-pound rankings, dropping from No. 2 to No. 8 on MMAfighting.com’s standings.
Adesanya’s loss has seen him plummet down the pound-for-pound rankings
After the fight, Adesanya claimed that he wasn’t ‘rocked’ by any of Pereira’s shots but, simultaneously, doesn’t ‘blame the referee’ for calling a stop to the fight.
‘I don’t blame the referee,’ Adesanya told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour podcast. ‘Marc did a good job, but you see it when I get up. I’m fine. I was lucid. I didn’t get “rocked” rocked.
‘I did everything in my power to make sure I was ready for this fight,’ said Adesanya.
‘I was the best I’ve ever felt. Literally the best I’ve ever felt. I got compromised. It was a smart move.’
‘Stylebender’ has now lost three fights to Pereira – two in kickboxing and one in MMA
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