- What: UFC 281 PPV card
- Date: Saturday, November 12, 2022
- Location: Madison Square Garden in New York, NY
- Time: Early Prelims (6 p.m. ET), Prelims (8 p.m. ET) Main Card (10 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+) Prelims (ESPNEWS). Main Card (ESPN + pay-per-view)
The UFC returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday for the UFC 281 pay-per-view card. The event features two title fights at the top of the card. In the evening’s co-headliner, Carla Esparza puts her UFC strawweight title on the line against former UFC 115-pound champ Zhang Weili. However, the contest that has created the most interest is the UFC 281 PPV main event. In that scrap, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his title against ex-two-division Glory kickboxing kingpin Alex Pereira. Here is some background on the card’s main event fighters, before we discuss, in detail, the UFC 281 betting breakdown.
Adesanya is 23-1 as a pro MMA competitor. He won the 185-pound crown in October 2019 with a knockout win over Robert Whittaker. Since then, he has defended the title five times. His only MMA loss is a March 2021 decision setback to then-UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz.
Pereira has a 6-1 MMA record. He is 3-0 in the UFC. Pereira is 2-0 against Adesanya in kickboxing contests. He defeated Adesanya by decision in 2016 and via knockout in 2017 in what was Adesanya’s final kickboxing outing. Pereira has been a full-time MMA competitor since he left Glory in September 2021.
UFC 281 Picks: Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
|To Win UFC 281 Main Event|
Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira breakdown and analysis
Yes, Alex Pereira has a knockout win over Israel Adesanya, but I would warn everyone not to put too much stock into that win. First, that victory came more than five years ago. Second, it was in a different sport. Third, Adesanya was winning the fight. Lastly, Adesanya is a much more dangerous mixed martial artist in 2022 than he was in 2017.
That kickboxing defeat was the last kickboxing contest of Adesanya’s career. Since then, he has gone 14-1 in MMA. He has five UFC middleweight title defenses and his only loss was a decision setback in a UFC light heavyweight title fight. Pereira is 6-1 in MMA and four of those bouts came while he was kickboxing. He is 3-0 in the UFC and is still a one-dimensional fighter. Adesanya is much more well-rounded and technical in his approach to MMA. The champ is also much better coached and trained than his opponent.
In terms of mixed martial arts, Adesanya is light years ahead of Pereira, who is a dangerous striker, but he remains a one-threat fighter. The same cannot be said of Adesanya in 2022.
UFC 281 Pick: Israel Adesanya to beat Alex Pereira.
Who has the edge
If this were a kickboxing match, I would give the nod to Pereira. However, it is an MMA bout, with that, the edge has to go to the reigning UFC champ. He has been facing the best competition the UFC has to offer at 185 pounds since around 2018. Meanwhile, Pereira has one win over a ranked UFC fighter. That victory came against Sean Strickland, who, for some reason, fought directly to the strengths of Pereira and found himself knocked out.
Adesanya’s coaches at City Kickboxing stress the importance of avoiding danger and putting oneself in risky situations. I expect that training will have an enormous influence on the type of fight Adesanya, who has heard fans call him “safe” and “boring” during his title run, engages in at UFC 281.
UFC 281 Prediction: Israel Adesanya to defeat Alex Pereira via decision.
Best UFC 281 Bets
Pereira is a live underdog in the UFC 281 matchup. His most likely paths to victory are a knockout early while Adesanya is trying to figure out range and distance or a decision win based on landing the more effective strikes on a reluctant to engage opponent. The best bet for the UFC 281 main event, if you favor Pereira, is a knockout win.
I don’t favor Pereira. I think this fight will be a tactical battle with Adesanya fighting all the way in or all the way out in the hope of scoring without being scored upon. Some might call that approach boring, I consider it the best way for Adesanya to remain the UFC champion. For me the best bet for the UFC 281 headliner is Adesanya to win via five-round decision.
Best UFC 281 Picks: Israel Adesanya to defeat Alex Pereira via decision.
See below a list of reliable sportsbooks and choose the best one for you.