Israel Adesanya was confident that he could defend his title when he took on Alex Pereira in UFC 281. He was mistaken, and wasn’t the only one to lose, as the rapper Drake had expected him to win, as well.
For much of the fight, Adesanya was in control. He took advantage of his kicks and quick punches to the face of his Brazilian opponent, who ended up staying alive thanks to the bell.
However, despite trailing in the matchup, Pereira began hurting The Last Stylebender in the fourth. He stepped in mostly with overhand punches that continued to pummel his opponent into the fifth and final round.
Adesanya Loses Crown
Pereira took down Adesanya by TKO to win the middleweight belt. He landed several hooks until referee Marc Goddard intervened to prevent further damage. At the end of the fight, the new champ raised his hand to display ‘3-0,’ a reference to the number of times he has beaten Adesanya.
Pereira and Adesanya traded punches and takedowns for five rounds, and it was late in the final round when the South American pressured the former champion to the fence. He then finished him off with some power shots that forced the ref’s intervention.
The fifth and final round arrived, where Pereira demonstrated his power from different combinations. He came at his opponent with a right overhand and a couple of hooks that were fatal for Adesanya, ending the fight.
For the final assault, Pereira knew that only a knockout would do, which he achieved with two minutes remaining in the fight. After just having four fights in the UFC, the Brazilian became the king of the middleweights.
On the remainder of the UFC 281 card, Weili Zhang took the strawweight championship from Carla Esparza, submitting her in the second round. In a major upset, Dustin Poirier finished Michael Chandler at the end of the third round.
In addition, veteran former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar retired after losing his bout against Chris Gutierrez via knockout.
Winners and Losers
He may have lost in the octagon, but Adesanya didn’t lose in the wallet. UFC data estimates that he took home $1.79M for the fight – $1M for appearing, $42K through sponsorships and $750K in PPV sales.
Pereira scored by taking the title, but also fattened his bank account. He likely made $932,000, composed of $500K for accepting the fight, $100K for winning and $32K from sponsorships. To that he adds a $50K “performance” bonus and $300K in PPV sales.
Esparza couldn’t stand up to her challenger, but took home $542K – $500K for appearing, $42K through sponsorships and $150K in PPV sales. Weili’s purse was larger, at $667K. That included $210K for the appearance, $100K for the win, $32K in sponsorships, $50K in a performance bonus and $275K in PPV sales.
Sports betting and online gambling fan Drake didn’t do as well as they did, though. He made out like a bandit the last time he backed Adesanya, but wasn’t able to reproduce the results on the favorite in UFC 281.
The Canadian rapper apparently put up $2 million for The Last Stylebender to win. That’s twice as much as he laid down in the fighter’s UFC 276 bout, but things didn’t go well this time around. There’s always next time, with UFC Fight Night coming this Saturday.
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