- There were three details from UFC 281 that fans may have missed.
- There was a rare double knockdown in the prelims and an illegal fish hook in the main card.
- Alex Pereira’s coaches also gave an all-time great pep talk to inspire an extraordinary turnaround.
The scores are in, and the dust has settled on UFC 281.
Saturday’s marquee MMA event at Madison Square Garden in New York City generated some of the biggest combat sports headlines of the year.
There were seven first-round finishes — a joint UFC record — on the 14-fight card, a Fight of the Year, and two championship belts changing hands.
But away from Dustin Poirier’s war with Michael Chandler and Alex Pereira’s come-from-behind knockout win over Israel Adesanya, were three key moments in the event that helped define the biggest, baddest, and best UFC show of the year.
An ultra rare, double-knockdown decorated the prelims on ESPN+
In one of the first fights on the entire card, Michael Trizano defeated Choi Seung-woo by knockout having overcome an early knockdown himself.
The knockdown was notable as it wasn’t just one fighter hitting the canvas.
Just 20 seconds into the featherweight scrap, Choi and Trizano clattered each other at the same time and fell to the floor simultaneously.
Trizano went on to seal a devastating knockdown that beat the buzzer at the end of the first round.
Watch the double knockdown right here:
—Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) November 12, 2022
The last time Insider can recall observing a double knockdown in all combat sports was July 2020 when Top Rank held a quarantine show in a Las Vegas bubble.
American boxers Corey Champion and Peter Cortez knocked each other down at the same time in the first round, before Champion went on to score another two knockdowns to seal an opening-round stoppage.
Chandler appeared to commit a highly illegal fish hook on Poirier
Later in the card, Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier collided in a lightweight spectacle.
The 155-pound all-American affair always promised fireworks and the bout was explosive from the moment it began, with Chandler drilling overhand rights into Poirier’s skull in the opening round. There was an edge-of-the-seat back-and-forth as Poirier eventually stamped his own authority on the fight.
Though Chandler dominated the second round with an oppressive ground game, Poirier rallied in the third to submit his countryman.
—Al Dawson (@AlanDawsonSport) November 13, 2022
Aside from the blood, sweat, and the tears from Poirier and Chandler, the match was notable because of alleged fouling.
Poirier said after the fight that Chandler fish-hooked him, and blew his bloody nose all over his face.
Fish-hooking in MMA is the act of inserting a finger or fingers from one or both hands into the opponents mouth, and pulling.
During MMA’s formative years it was one of the few things you couldn’t do and remains a highly-illegal and controversial maneuver.
“I told him he’s a dirty mother fucker for putting his fingers in my mouth and blowing his nose,” Poirier said after the match, according to MMA Fighting.
—ESPN MMA (@espnmma) November 13, 2022
Chandler admitted he did it but said he could not withdraw his fingers from Poirier’s mouth because he was getting bitten.
“I will admit his mouth was open and my hand went inside of there and was on his mouthpiece,” Chandler said, according to MMA Fighting.
“He bit down. I was trying to pull it out. It wasn’t as though I was trying to pull it out, and he was biting it and I couldn’t get it out. It was more just the angle.”
An all-time great pep talk from a coach preceded Pereira’s last-gasp finish of Adesanya
Another of the biggest talking points to come out of UFC 281 was Alex Pereira ending Israel Adesanya’s lengthy reign as the company’s middleweight king.
The two strikers had faced-off before in kickboxing formats years ago, with Pereira winning by knockout.
However, Adesanya was the far more experienced athlete in ultimate fighting and was expected to finally get a win over his old rival.
Adesanya’s striking was so on point and so powerful in the first round that he cracked Pereira with such big hits that the Brazilian looked like he would have been down and out, had he not been saved by the bell.
Pereira showed extraordinary recuperative abilities to not only continue with the fight — but win the second round.
He did not capitalize on that momentum swing, though, as Adesanya won the third and the fourth rounds.
Pereira’s corner knew it, too, and before the fifth and final round, they gave their fighter a Hollywood pep talk imploring him to seek the knockout as it was his only chance of securing the win.
Watch it right here:
—ESPN MMA (@espnmma) November 13, 2022
In scenes befitting of the silver screen, Pereira went on to get that knockout win, rip the world title from Adesanya’s waist, and become the No. 1 fighter in the division in only his fourth official UFC bout.
UFC returns Saturday for a Fight Night event at the Apex in Las Vegas.