Israel Adesanya arrested at New York airport after UFC shock

Seen here, Kiwi fighter Israel Adesanya looks on at UFC 281.
Israel Adesanya was arrested at New York's JFK airport less than a week after his shock loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281. Pic: Getty

UFC star Israel Adesanya's week has gone from bad to worse after he was arrested and detained by US authorities after a bizarre incident at New Yorks's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The Kiwi fighter - who suffered a shock TKO defeat to Alex Pereira at UFC 281 in New York over the weekend, was stopped by airport officials after trying to pass through security with a pair of brass knuckles.

SO SAD: Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson's death leaves UFC world devastated

SCARY: Justis Huni rushed to hospital with Aussie boxer in 'serious pain'

'WHAT AN UPSET: SBW KO'd by UFC legend in shock boxing scenes

TMZ Sports reported that Adesanya was stopped at about 2pm local time, before being taken into custody by Transportation Security Administration staff after they found the weapon in his possession.

Brass knuckles are illegal in the state of New York, however, the UFC star's manager claims the fighter was given them as a present by a fan, and later released after being questioned by officials at the airport.

“Israel was handed a gift by a fan, which he put in his luggage,” Adesanya’s manager Tim Simpson said in a statement.

“When flagged at the airport, Israel quickly disposed of the item, and co-operated with authorities. He has complied accordingly, with that the matter was dismissed and he is on his way home.”

Although Adesanya was reportedly not charged after his arrest, the incident still serves as another blow for the UFC's former middleweight champion, following his stunning fifth round defeat to Pereira at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Adesanya was ahead on all three cards, 39-37, after four full rounds in the main event bout in New York, nearly finishing Pereira at the end of the first round.

The Nigerian-born New Zealand fighter appeared all but certain to win via unanimous decision and make yet another successful middleweight title defence.

Things changed dramatically in the fifth and deciding round however, as history repeated itself and Pereira once again landed the shock knockout blow on his opponent.

Pereira is the only man to have knocked Adesanya out in his professional fighting career, having scored a pair of kickboxing victories over the Kiwi in 2016 and 2017.

Again in New York, Pereira caught Adesanya with a crushing right hand that began the end of Adesanya’s reign. He followed up with a series of punches that forced referee Marc Godard to stop it.

In only his eighth MMA fight and his fourth bout in the UFC, Pereira became the UFC champion by stopping Adesanya at 2:01 of the fifth round before a stunned crowd of 20,845.

It was Adesanya’s fight to win, and the jeweler was likely polishing the gem that would go in Adesanya’s belt to denote another defence when Pereira changed the course of UFC history.

“It was incredible, something you’d see in a movie,” UFC president Dana White said.

“I don’t know who it was, but he said, ‘You’re losing! You need to knock him out in this round. Move forward, throw punches in bunches, let your hands go and you’re going to be a world champion in five minutes.’ It was something straight out of a movie.”

Pictured right, Alex Pereira battles Israel Adesanya during their middleweight fight at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden.
Alex Pereira (R) battles Israel Adesanya during their middleweight fight at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden. Pic: Getty

Alex Pereira KOs Israel Adesanya for a second time

Pereira had scored a last-round knockout the last time he faced Adesanya, when they met in a kickboxing fight in Brazil in 2017. Adesanya won the first round, hurt Pereira and scored a standing eight count in the second, before being knocked out by a crushing left hook in the third.

For weeks before their fight at UFC 281, Adesanya patiently answered questions about his two losses to Pereira and specifically about the knockout. He said it wasn’t in his head and he’d successfully dealt with it.

And he fought that way in New York - free, smart and imaginative. He was in command of the fight most of the way, using his lateral movement, his boxing skills and his incredible sense of distance and timing. But Pereira worked hard on calf kicks and it limited Adesanya’s ability to move.

Adesanya admitted after the fight that the end came for him - at least in part - because of “my legs.”

"I was compromised because of the investment he made in calf kicks,” added Adesanya, who also alluded to medical issues which have been plaguing him.

White has repeatedly praised him during his title reign for his willingness to fight anyone, and Adesanya for four-plus rounds was showing why. He’s a skilled, smart and elite fighter and was controlling the bout. Adesanya said he believed he was going to stop Pereira.

But he expressed no regrets. “A lot of guys talk publicly and say they want to fight this guy or that guy, but behind the scenes, it’s a different story,” White said. “Believe me, he wanted this fight. He’s a stud.”

with Yahoo Sports US

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.