Israel Adesanya’s history haunts him in UFC 281. Adesanya defends his UFC middleweight title against Alex Pereira, who knocked him out twice in kickboxing. A story-rich headliner for the promotion’s return to Madison Square Garden.
With each successful championship defence, Adesanya strengthens his case as the greatest middleweight ever. Adesanya will test his kickboxing against former two-division Glory champion Pereira.
In his sixth and seventh UFC fights, Adesanya won the interim and undisputed middleweight belts. Pereira’s rapid climb overshadows this accomplishment. Pereira earned a top-five position and a UFC championship chance with a first-round KO of Sean Strickland at UFC 276. Adesanya has beaten Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker (twice), Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori (twice), and Jared Cannonier.
Carla Esparza defends her women’s strawweight title against Weili Zhang. Esparza won the championship in 2014 over Rose Namajunas. Zhang regained her championship after knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Let’s look at the whole fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before making our PPV predictions and choices.
UFC 281 fight card, odds
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Israel Adesanya (c) -210 vs. Alex Pereira +175, middleweight championship
- Weili Zhang -340 vs. Carla Esparza (c) +270, women’s strawweight championship
- Dustin Poirier -230 vs. Michael Chandler +190, lightweight
- Chris Gutierrez -220 vs. Frankie Edgar +170, bantamweight
- Dan Hooker -155 vs. Claudio Puelles +130, lightweight
- Renato Moicano -125 vs. Brad Riddell +105, lightweight
- Dominick Reyes -220 vs. Ryan Spann +180, light heavyweight
- Erin Blanchfield -400 vs. Molly McCann +310, women’s flyweight
- Andre Petroski -200 vs. Wellington Turman +170, middleweight
- Silvana Gomez Juarez -115 vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz -105, women’s strawweight
- Choi Seung-woo -165 vs. Michael Trizano +140, featherweight
- Ottman Azaitar -135 vs. Matt Frevola +115, lightweight
- Montel Jackson -200 vs. Julio Arce +170, bantamweight
- Carlos Ulberg -135 vs. Nicolae Negumereanu +115, light heavyweight
With such a huge main event, CBS Sports made main card predictions. Your pickers: Brent Brookhouse, Brian Campbell, Shakiel Mahjouri, Michael Mormile, and Brandon Wise (Combat sports writers) (senior editor).