While Israel Adesanya was quick to give Alex Pereira his respect for defeating him at UFC 281 (for a third time), “The Last Stylebender” feels he could’ve continued on if the referee on duty, Marc Goddard, would have let the fight continue.
But not everyone is sharing “Izzy’s” sentiment, including longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) trainer, Firas Zahabi, who says Goddard stepped in at the right time because he possibly saved Adesanya’s career.
“Pereira could have very possibly ended Adesanya’s career if the referee did not intervene,” Zahabi said on his YouTube channel (via MMA Junkie). “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,” he added.
“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. 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.”
Still, Zahabi — who was Georges St-Pierre’s longtime trainer — gives Adesanya credit for his gameplan, which nearly gave him the win.
“Adesanya fought beautifully,” Zahabi said. “Brilliant. He was winning three rounds to one. He was losing Round 1 and came back with an incredible right-hand, left hook combination.”
The talk around the water cooler is that an instant rematch (or fourth fight) will likely be next, but Adesanya first has to serve a two-month medical suspension from the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) before he even thinks about returning to action.
What do you think about Zahabi’s assessment of Goddard’s career-saving decision to stop the fight?
For complete UFC 281 results and coverage click here.