Alex Pereira knocked out Israel Adesanya to become middleweight champion at UFC 281 in New York, BBC reported.
The 35-year-old sensationally stopped Adesanya in the fifth round with a flurry of punches which led to the referee calling a halt to the contest.
The Brazilian secured the title, which Adesanya had held since 2019, in only his fourth fight in the UFC and eighth in mixed martial arts.
“I’ve trained my whole life for this. I’ve worked so hard,” Pereira said.
In the co-main event, Zhang Weili beat Carla Esparza to become the new strawweight champion.
Weili controlled the tempo of the fight before submitting Esparza in the second round with a rear-naked choke.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Molly McCann was comprehensively beaten by Erin Blanchfield in the first round of their flyweight contest.
Pereira stunned the crowd at Madison Square Garden, leaving it late with victory coming with two minutes to go in the final round.
Adesanya, who was attempting to record six consecutive title defences, was on course to retain his title until Pereira rocked him with a right hand.
Sensing Adesanya was in trouble, Pereira pressed and landed substantial shots which saw referee Marc Goddard step in and wave the bout off.
Nigeria-born Adesanya, who is based in New Zealand, was not happy with the stoppage while Pereira held aloft a ‘3-0 sign’, a nod to his two previous wins over the 33-year-old in kickboxing before the pair joined the UFC.
The fight was intriguing from the start.
Adesanya rocked Pereira with seconds remaining of the first round, delivering a right hand followed by a left hook but the buzzer saved the Brazilian.
Pereira bounced back in the second, landing heavy shots which left Adesanya scrambling. He was also able to score a takedown in the final moments of the round.
The pendulum swung once again in the third round with Adesanya controlling it from the ground.
Pereira had no answer to Adesanya’s grappling or wrestling from top position.
As the bout wore on, Adesanya seemed to be in control, using his distance and crisp striking to nullify the tiring Pereira.
But Pereira was not to be denied and claimed a famous win over an old rival.