We are officially less than 10 days away from the UFC’s return to New York City and Madison Square Garden where the promotion will be hosting UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira.
There are currently 14 fights scheduled for the event, but if recent weeks have taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for some last-minute alterations or cancellations to these lineups. Hopefully, at least the top half of the card will stay together, as there are a handful of interesting fights on the main card.
The main event of the card will see Israel Adesanya attempt to continue his UFC Middleweight reign of dominance against former kickboxing rival Alex Periera. This will be the first time the two have fought under an MMA ruleset, but Periera holds two victories over Adesanya from their days in Glory Kickboxing.
Adesanya has never lost in MMA at 185 pounds, but he will have his hands full trying to stop what is almost certain to be non-stop pressure coming from Pereira, who has already shown he has the power to turn out the lights of the Last Stylebender.
Carla Esparza will also attempt to defend her UFC Women’s Strawweight title against former champion Weili Zhang. Esparza became a two-time champion in the division with one of the most lackluster wins I have ever witnessed when she beat Rose Namajunas earlier this year.
Zhang has looked like an absolute monster whenever she has faced someone other than Namajunas, so expect Esparza to have her hands full if she wants to walk away with her title still around her waist and hear Bruce Buffer shout “AND STILL!” afterwards.
Beyond the two championship fights, all three of the fights currently listed to be on the main card should be exciting, with Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler almost guaranteed to deliver fireworks as both fighters look to continue to stay near the top of the UFC Lightweight contender list.
As with most events featuring Adesanya or Alexander Volkanovski, there are plenty of other familiar faces from City Kickboxing sprinkled throughout the lineup, with Brad Riddell, Dan Hooker, and Carlos Ulberg joining the champ in NYC this time.
Dominick Reyes will be returning from a lengthy layoff and will look to halt a brutal three fight stretch that saw him lose to Jon Jones, Jan Blachowicz, and Jiri Prochazka. He’ll be facing Ryan Spann, who has looked pretty solid in his recent fights and definitely won’t be an easy spot for Reyes to stop his losing skid.
There are already a couple of betting underdogs who have my eye for this event and I’m looking forward to diving deeper into the lineup on this one over the next several days. UFC PPV events have largely been a betting nightmare for many in 2022, so I plan to take some extra time crawling through this card.
Who do you think will leave the Big Apple wearing the UFC Middleweight championship? Which fight are you looking forward to the most from this event and which fighters do you think will be taking home bonuses? Let us know your thoughts below.
Check back on OddSmokerMMA as the event approaches for our full UFC 281 Preview, Picks, Predictions, Betting Card and much more!
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