Former UFC champion Israel Adesanya lost his spot atop the middleweight division to Alex Pereira in the final 2023 rankings. saturday punch reports.

The Nigerian-born New Zealander lost his belt to his Brazilian rival at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, USA.

Leading 3-1 on the judges’ scorecards going into his title fight against Pereira, middleweight champion Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) was stopped in round 5. It was a TKO final for Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), who had Adesanya shaken and badly hurt three minutes into the final frame.

Here are the most recent rankings of the top 10 middleweights on the UFC roster with Adesanya now at number two.

At number 10 is Roman Dolidze, Andre Muniz at number nine, Sean Strickland at number eight, number seven is Paulo Costa, Derek Brunson sits at number six, Marvin Vettori at fifth and Jared Cannonier at fourth.

Robert Whittaker sits at number three in the latest rankings after bouncing back from a previous one to end 2022 with a win.

Adesanya is now number two, and for the first time since unifying the belt in 2019, Adesanya is no longer at the top of the middleweight division and is now the number one contender.

Despite leading on all three scorecards in his UFC 281 title defense against Alex Pereira, his longtime kickboxing rival, Adesanya succumbed to a fifth-round stoppage for his first middleweight loss inside the octagon. An immediate rematch is likely even though Pereira now owns three wins over Adesanya in two combat sports.

Pereira is number one in the UFC now after he sent Adesanya reeling off the Octagon fence during a fifth-round exchange and briefly dropping the Nigerian-Kiwi.

Smelling blood in the New York water, Pereira forced the referee’s hand on Marc Goddard with a series of punches as Adesanya tried to evade, clinching himself the new undisputed UFC middleweight champion, in just four outings of the octagon.

Pereira, a former two-weight GLORY Kickboxing champion, has since welcomed an immediate title rematch with Adesanya. Pereira is now 3-0 against Adesanya in combat sports.

However, Adesanya remains a slight betting favorite to finally avenge his loss to the former in a highly anticipated title rematch this year.

Expected to share the Octagon this summer, Adesanya, who is attempting to return to the winner’s box for the first time as a middleweight in his mixed martial arts career, sits as the current -150 favorite over champion Pereira, who sits as a +130 underdog.