The UFC is on a roll these days trying to put on the baddest matches for the end of the year Pay Per View events. After announcing an insane card for UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, they are now moving UFC 281 to one of the most iconic sporting arenas in the world. We are talking about none other than Madison Square Garden. UFC is known to host at least one event at the iconic MSG in a calendar year. It will be the first time that the UFC will be heading to Madison Square Garden this year, the last event held at MSG was a classic UFC 268 card.
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has just confirmed on the ESPN SportsCenter that he will be taking on his arch nemesis Alex Pereira at UFC 281 main event. This is the fight which every MMA fan was waiting for.
After Alex Pereira absolutely demolished Sean Strickland at UFC 276, he instantly called out ‘The last style bender’ and even urged the crowd to support Adesanya to win against Cannonier so that the Brazilian can face the current middleweight champion for the third time.
The rivalry between Adesanya and Pereira dates back to their kickboxing days. The pair fought each other on two occasions and Pereira was victorious on both occasions. They fought for the first time in a three-round bout at Glory of Heroes 1: Shenzhen, where Pereira would capture a unanimous decision victory. The two would then rematch a year later at Glory of Heroes 7 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with differing results for both sides. The reigning UFC Middleweight Champion would see a lot of success in the rematch, winning many of the exchanges. However, Adesanya made the same mistake as Strickland recently did and he got too comfortable only for the ‘stone hands’ to land a perfect left hook on the chin and handing Adesanya’s his only brutal knockout defeat. After the loss Adesanya transitioned to MMA.
The road to UFC middleweight title has been quite fast paced for Pereira as he only joined UFC in September 2021. He bagged three victories in his first year in the organization out of which the most recent was at UFC 276 where he knocked out Sean Strickland out cold. The other two victories came against Bruno Silva in March and Andreas in November last year. This is the perfect opportunity for Pereira to make his mark once again on the biggest stage.
At this time, it was obvious that the UFC's greatest promotional move would be to expedite the kickboxing champion's next match with Adesanya in the depleted Middleweight division. He not only has two victories over the reigning champion, but he is also a powerful puncher. On the other hand, revenge will be on Adesanya’s mind as he will be thinking to get one over his bitter rival. Therefore after successfully defending his title at UFC 276, he also acknowledged that his next opponent will be no other than the powerful Brazilian.
There is no doubt that the hype for this fight is absolutely insane. Even Dana White acknowledged that the fight between these two fighters would be an absolute war. Alex Pereira is not the type of fighter to enter the cage with a defensive approach and try to survive for five rounds hoping that there would be a chance to catch Adesanya off guard. He will try to impose pressure on the champion and engage in brutal exchanges hoping to knock him out once again. This is one of the most common mistakes which Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori made, and they lost the bout against The Last Style Bender. However, Whittaker was the one who came close to dethroning Adesanya back at UFC 271 with his wrestling approach but failed to please the judges.
One of the key factors of this fight would be the hype around it as we move closer to November 12, the pressure in both the fighter’s camps would be increasing. Despite the buildup, the current middleweight champion is known to thrive under pressure situations. Whenever the chips are against him, he rises to the occasion and performs spectacularly. Recently Adesanya has been at the receiving end of criticism from the fans due to his defensive approach in his last three fights which went the full distance.
The main event for UFC 281 promises to light up Madison Square Garden. It has the potential to draw huge pay per view numbers as Chandler vs Poirier are likely to be the co main event. Will Alex Pereira be able to dethrone Israel Adesanya and become the new king of the division? Or will Adesanya’s championship mindset and improved striking skills prove too much for the Brazilian? Let us know in the comments below.