UFC 281 kicks off in New York City on the morning of November 13, the UFC octagon will be hosted by the legendary Madison Square Garden. The card will be as eventful as possible: two title fights in men’s and women’s divisions, the final fight of the future UFC Hall of Fame member Frankie Edgar and many other interesting fights.You can watch all the fights in excellent quality at 1ufc.net. To watch all the fights you have to register!
Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira
The main fight of the night at Madison Square Garden will be in the middleweight division. The No. 2 ranked middleweight contender and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-1) will take on the 35-year-old Brazilian Alex Pereira (6-1), the youngest puncher in the sport.
The Nigerian nicknamed “The Last Stylebender” has the only loss to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in Adesanya’s non-native bantamweight division under his belt. He is now 23-1 and ranked as the top middleweight fighter, and has two successful title defenses against Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier. Adesanya’s last three wins came by way of unanimous decision.
Since winning the interim title in 2019 with a win over Kelvin Gastelum and a confirmation win over Robert Whittaker, Adesanya has made five successful title defenses and has proven to be the best fighter in the octagon in recent years. A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and incredible power combined with flexibility make Adesanya a unique fighter with virtually no weaknesses. Yes, he has never won in the UFC with a chokehold, but that’s hardly a valid argument.
Alex Pereira had the strangest path to a championship fight in history with wins over Bruno Silva and Shawn Strickland. The man only joined the promotion at age 33, defeated the little-known Andreas Michailidis and had those very two fights afterwards. Those who don’t follow martial arts much may not know that Pereira defeated Adesanya twice by kickboxing rules, once by knockout and once by decision. That’s why the title fight was given to a veteran by age, who had only three fights in the promotion. Albeit successful ones. Dana White and others are looking forward to this fight and hope that the Brazilian can offer real resistance to the champion.
Adesanya acknowledged Pereira’s previous victories, but greatly understated their significance, correctly noting that they were won in a completely different sport with completely different rules and occurred many years ago. Whether a similar outcome will happen again in MMA is a big question. The UFC 281 main event fight will answer many questions, and Pereira could be the most unexpected middleweight champion to come to the promotion in 2021.
Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili
The second title fight will be at the women’s bantamweight division. The champion, 35-year-old American Carla Esparza (19-6) will fight 33-year-old Chinese Zhang Weili (22-3). Esparza will begin her first title defense against the former champion.
Esparza, nicknamed “Cookie Monster,” was the Invicta FC champion and defeated Rose Namayunas in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 20 show in 2014, which earned her her first title. After such success, it didn’t take long for her to make her main promotion debut. However, the American had to wait a long time for her second title. Almost eight years and 12 fights after defeating Rose Namayunas, who became the UFC lightweight champion, Esparza won by split decision over Namayunas and won the title for the second time. It was an evenly matched bout with mutual odds, but Esparza was able to turn the tide in the last round.
The victory over Namayunas allowed the American to extend her winning streak to six fights and become the second two-time champion in the history of the division along with her “friend” with Lithuanian roots.
Zhang, 33, of China, is currently ranked number two at light-heavyweight and plans to become the third to take two titles. Zhang Weili earned the right to a title fight after an incredible backfight against Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 275 in June 2022.Now the Chinese woman aims to repeat the performance of the retired Polish superstar when she defeated Esparza at UFC 185 and won the title. Zhang had lost twice before to the same Namayunas – in the first fight, after flying away from a high kick in the first round, Weili made her conclusions and lasted all 5 rounds in the second fight, but she lacked the punches to win.
In fact, the women’s featherweight title fight will be a classic clash of styles between the flamboyant Esparza wrestler and the striker Zhang. Both girls are approaching the bout in great shape, this will be an incredibly intriguing confrontation.
Dustin Porter vs Michael Chandler
This lightweight fight is hardly inferior to the title bouts in terms of entourage. The 33-year-old star of the promotion, American Dustin Porrier (28-7), will fight Michael Chandler, 36, in a derby. The rivals have no fights between them, but their fight has taken on new colors amidst the constant clashes – the fighters clearly don’t like each other. They finally got a chance to settle things in the octagon.
Porier hasn’t been in the cage since late last year after losing his title fight to Charles Oliveira at UFC 269. Dustin has been a member of the UFC since 2011 and has managed to lose to all the top lightweights, from Khabib and Conor to Oliveira. Nurmagomedov stripped him of his interim title and ended his career after the fight. Dustin Porrier beat Holloway, Gagey, Pettis, Alvarez and other established lightweight masters, but his last two wins over McGregor made him a definite Hall of Fame member. Yes, the 33-year-old American doesn’t have any real titles yet, but a win over Chandler would get him closer to fighting Makhachev or at least Oliveira again.
Chandler is looking to build on his May 2022 win over Tony Ferguson after two tough losses to Gagey and Oliveira. The 36-year-old fighter came to the promotion after years of success in Bellator, where he defeated Alvarez. In the UFC, Chandler’s stats are only 2-2, but he is still considered a title shot contender. That’s what the three-time Bellator lightweight champion will try to prove in his fight against Porier.
Both fighters love spectacular fights – their meeting between them has all the chances to be the fight of the year. Especially when they have flashy verbal altercations and mini-fights long before the fight.
Frankie Edgar vs. Chris Gutierrez
In the bantamweight division, martial arts fans will have to say goodbye to a legend. The 41-year-old American veteran Frankie Edgar (24-10-1) will step into the octagon for the last time against 31-year-old Chris Gutierrez (18-4).
Frankie Edgar is looking to end his career on a high note as he enters the ring for the last time. He is a former lightweight champion, two-time lightweight title challenger and former three-division title challenger, with a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame already reserved for him. However, in reality, Edgar has only 2 wins over Munyus and Swanson out of 6 fights since 2018. In his last title fight, he lost to Holloway at UFC 240 in July 2019. Perhaps he should have finished earlier, because the losses to Sandhagen and Vera were hard enough, at 41 you have to take care of your health.
Gutierrez, on the other hand, has three straight wins and no losses in his last seven fights, most recently coming off a second-round win over Danaa Batgerel in March. The Factory X Muay Thai representative has never been in top form, and he has a chance to pick up the loudest win of his career this weekend in New York City. The 31-year-old American has not had a single strong opponent in the promotion, now given to a veteran who is ending his career. If Gutierrez loses, he has no chance to stay in the UFC.
Will Edgar be able to turn back the clock and walk away nicely on a winning note, or will Gutierrez make “The Answer’s” farewell more somber?
Dan Hooker vs. Claudio Puelles
The UFC 281 main card at Madison Square Garden kicks off with a lightweight bout between 32-year-old New Zealander Dan Hooker (21-12) and 26-year-old Peruvian Claudio Puelles (13-2)
Dan Hooker returns to lightweight after a one-time attempt to move up to welterweight – Peruvian grappler Claudio Puelles is excited about the event and ready to welcome him with open arms.
The 32-year-old “Executioner” is one of those fighters whose recent results do little to reflect his skills and abilities. On the one hand, Hooker has only won one fight in his last five matches against the no-name Huckparast. On the other, the New Zealander has lost to Porter, Chandler and Makhachev in those fights. The last loss was to new lightweight throne contender Arnold Allen.
Prior to that bad streak, Dan Hooker had seven wins in eight fights, including knockout victories over Jim Miller and Gilbert Burns and decisions over Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder.
Puelles, 26, will come to the Big Apple city on a streak of five straight wins, three of which have come by knee leverage. The Peruvian representative is a classy grappler, a former Ultimate Fighter: Latin America participant who has scored two straight wins with a rare finish and looks like a fighter capable of climbing into the top lightweight rankings after beating Hooker.
This is an extremely important fight for both, with Hooker looking to show that he’s still capable of being a threat at lightweight and to put aside the gaining young fighter, and Puelles looking to pick up the biggest win of his career and earn a legitimate spot in the rankings with his sixth straight win.