UFC 281: Alex Pereira's 5th-round KO of Israel Adesanya stunned the MMA world

Alex Pereira is the new UFC middleweight champion, and it took a stunning turn of events to get him there.

Facing reigning middleweight champ Israel Adesanya at UFC 281, Pereira was on track for a loss by unanimous decision. He was down 39-37 on all three judges' scorecards going into the fifth round, which didn't start how he would have wanted it.

And then one of Pereira's crushing punches found home, and Adesanya wobbled. The ensuing flurry ended in a ref stoppage, the final stage of one of the most stunning ascents in recent MMA history. It would have been even wilder had we not seen a fifth-round KO of a top pound-for-pound champ three months ago.

Of course, one of the people who were already familiar with Pereira was Adesanya. Much of the run-up to the fight focused on the Brazilian's two wins over the champion during their kickboxing careers, and history repeated Saturday night.

The result is Pereira holding a belt after his fourth UFC fight. He got that quick title shot thanks to his dominance both as a kickboxer and in his three previous fights, but his win was still stunning given he was three minutes from losing.

Many in the MMA world were shocked by the ending:

And then there was rising star Khamzat Chimaez, adding Pereira to the long list of fighters he has chellenged:

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Alex Pereira of Brazil reacts after his TKO victory over Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in the UFC middleweight championship bout during the UFC 281 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Alex Pereira is a UFC champion after his fourth UFC fight. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)