Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

A ghost from Israel Adesanya’s previous returns at UFC 281 on Saturday night time. Adesanya defends his UFC middleweight champion towards Alex Pereira, a vicious striker who defeated Adesanya twice within the kickboxing circuit and stays the one individual in fight sports activities to knock him out. A narrative-rich headliner for the promotion’s return to Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis.

Adesanya, armed with a chic and stifling putting sport, builds his case as the best middleweight of all time with every profitable title protection. Adesanya will check the standard of his kickboxing sport towards arguably the one fighter who can meet or exceed it, former two-division Glory kickboxing champion Pereira.

Adesanya fought his solution to the UFC interim middleweight and undisputed middleweight titles in his sixth and seventh UFC fights, respectively. A feat price celebrating, however one eclipsed by Pereira’s accelerated rise by way of the ranks. A primary-round KO of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 rewarded Pereira with a top-five rating and a UFC title shot in simply his fourth battle with the promotion. Adesanya — having defeated Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker (twice), Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori (twice) and Jared Cannonier — welcomes a troublesome problem.

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The ladies’s strawweight crown can be at stake on the cardboard when Carla Esparza places the belt on the road towards former titleholder Weili Zhang. Esparza is on the lookout for her first title protection in her second reign as champion — she additionally didn’t defend the title when she gained it the primary time in 2014.

Plus, a light-weight fireplace battle is about for the featured bout when former title challengers Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler hyperlink up. The battle might catapult the winner into one closing title shot in 2023. The cardboard additionally sees the ultimate battle of Frankie Edgar’s storied profession when he takes on Chris Gutierrez at bantamweight. And lightweights open the present on the principle card when Dan Hooker takes on Claudio Puelles.

Observe together with compete protection of UFC 281 reside from Madison Sq. Backyard for round-by-round scoring and play-by-play of all of the motion contained in the Octagon starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.

With a lot taking place on Saturday night time, let’s take a more in-depth take a look at the complete battle card with the most recent odds from Caesars Sportsbook earlier than we get to our employees predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 281 battle card, odds

Odds by way of Caesars Sportsbook

Israel Adesanya (c) -210 vs. Alex Pereira +175, middleweight championshipWeili Zhang -340 vs. Carla Esparza (c) +270, ladies’s strawweight championshipDustin Poirier -230 vs. Michael Chandler +190, lightweightChris Gutierrez -220 vs. Frankie Edgar +170, bantamweight
Dan Hooker -155 vs. Claudio Puelles +130, lightweightRenato Moicano -125 vs. Brad Riddell +105, light-weight
Dominick Reyes -220 vs. Ryan Spann +180, mild heavyweight
Erin Blanchfield -400 vs. Molly McCann +310, ladies’s flyweight
Andre Petroski -200 vs. Wellington Turman +170, middleweight
Silvana Gomez Juarez -115 vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz -105, ladies’s strawweight
Choi Seung-woo -165 vs. Michael Trizano +140, featherweight
Ottman Azaitar -135 vs. Matt Frevola +115, light-weight
Montel Jackson -200 vs. Julio Arce +170, bantamweight
Carlos Ulberg -135 vs. Nicolae Negumereanu +115, mild heavyweight

With such an enormous principal occasion on faucet, the crew at CBS Sports activities went forward with predictions and picks for the principle card. Listed below are your choose makers: Brent Brookhouse (Fight sports activities author), Brian Campbell (Fight sports activities author, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (author), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Smart (senior editor).

UFC 281 picks, predictions

Adesanya (c) vs. PereiraAdesanyaPereiraAdesanyaAdesanyaAdesanyaEsparza (c) vs. ZhangZhangZhangZhangZhangZhangPoirier vs. ChandlerChandlerPoirierPoirierPoirierPoirierEdgar vs. GutierrezGutierrezGutierrezGutierrezEdgarGutierrezHooker vs. PuellesHookerPuellesHooker
HookerHookerRecords thus far (2022)29-2429-2427-2626-2732-21

Adesanya vs. Pereira

Campbell: For nearly as good because the backstory is of Pereira having twice defeated Adesanya in kickboxing, together with as soon as by brutal knockout, the variations between the 2 as combined martial arts cannot be forgotten. Sure, Pereira has scary energy in each arms however he is additionally nonetheless so extremely inexperienced as an MMA fighter with simply seven professional fights, together with three within the Octagon. The specter of Pereira’s putting ought to produce a centered Adesanya who is able to counter always, in contrast to the extra free, level fighter he has grow to be of late when contenders aren’t prepared to go for broke towards him. Pereira ought to be loads prepared, which is able to imply Adesanya should be at his best. However the deeper the battle goes, the extra unknown questions emerge for Pereira, together with all the things from his stamina and floor sport to his capacity to make changes. 

Brookhouse: Regardless of Pereira having two kickboxing wins over Adesanya, Adesanya is the higher striker on a technical degree. Pereira is without doubt one of the pound-for-pound heaviest hitters within the sport, although, and somebody who’s going to be unwilling to permit Adesanya to take a seat again and level battle. The thoughts video games might additionally come into play, although I imagine that might be one thing that results in Adesanya seeking to “make a degree” reasonably than turning into gunshy. The issue I see for Adesanya is that partaking in putting is uniquely harmful for him on this battle. Sure, he’s higher technically, however MMA gloves not solely result in tougher photographs from Pereira but in addition to extra problem in defending towards these photographs coming at you. An Adesanya win is the extra probably consequence, however this feels just like the type of battle the place the challenger has a nicely above common probability of pulling off the upset. It solely takes one shot from Pereira to finish this battle whereas Adesanya needs to be on level always.

Mahjouri: It appears like a while since siding with Adesanya required such warning. Pereira has the extra highly effective kickboxing and is brimming with confidence having defeated Adesanya in two earlier kickboxing matches. Adesanya is the extra elusive striker, using feints, footwork and counterattacks that disarm most opponents. Pereira has confirmed way more hittable within the Octagon so far, which ought to work to the champion’s benefit. On the floor, Pereira’s KO of Adesanya of their second kickboxing battle is regarding. A full watch by way of of that battle, nonetheless, reveals that Adesanya was having his manner with Pereira earlier than the end. An Adesanya resolution win or Pereira KO appears more than likely, let’s aspect with the previous.

Esparza vs. Zhang

Campbell: Hardly ever earlier than has a two-time champion driving a six-fight win streak been this aggressively dismissed by seemingly everybody heading right into a title protection. However whether or not it is honest or not that followers proceed in charge Esparza for the way boring her title victory over Rose Namajunas was of their Might rematch, few predict her to exit the Octagon nonetheless sporting her 115-pound belt. The reason being largely due to how a lot better Zhang has appeared to have gotten as a fighter since shedding her title to Namajunas. Zhang, the primary Chinese language-born UFC champion, rebuilt her physique and improved her wrestling expertise sufficient to see oddsmakers set up her as almost a 4-1 favourite. Contemplating 4 of Esparza’s six latest wins featured disputed scoring, Zhang seems to be the good choose for good cause.

Mahjouri: Zhang is a powerhouse amongst strawweights. Few within the division rival her capacity to land crushing blows. She actually has the putting edge towards Esparza however so do many of the high contenders. A look at Zhang’s 60% takedown protection is regarding, however I count on her coaches have put quite a lot of emphasis on her wrestling to pair along with her bodily energy. (Hopefully) improved wrestling, pure energy and head-rattling energy ought to lead Zhang to victory.

Poirier vs. Chandler

Campbell: If you danger all of it from the opening bell for the primary 5 minutes of each battle, you’re going probably win simply as a lot as you lose. Chandler’s thrilling 2-2 run since making his UFC debut final 12 months appears to assist that. However the former three-time Bellator MMA champion’s blitzkrieg method may additionally be his finest probability at attending to the chin of Poirier, whose accumulation of injury over an unbelievable profession will at some point catch as much as him. Even when Chandler follows by way of on his risk to play it safer than regular (by wrestling) given {that a} title shot could possibly be in play for the winner, the fireworks followers count on ought to nonetheless be there ultimately. Chandler almost knocked out then-champion Charles Oliveira in 2021 and seems poised for a potential second run on the belt.

Brookhouse: Sure, the logic that “at some point” Poirier could lose all punch resistance is cheap. However there is not any proof that that day has come. Chandler, in the meantime, has a notoriously crackable chin, particularly for somebody who fights within the fashion that he does. It nonetheless appears like a minor miracle that he made it to the scorecards towards Justin Gaethje. Chandler was dropped by a badly light Tony Ferguson and simply will get hit too cleanly, too typically to select him towards somebody with the precision and total gameplan of Poirier. Chandler all the time has the very definition of a “puncher’s probability” however his higher path to victory could also be to be a wrestler first, striker second. I do not see him following by way of on that plan as soon as Poirier begins to land. Chandler probably goes proper to his behavior of overly partaking with wild strikes that can depart him open to crisp photographs from Poirier earlier than a stoppage.

Smart: There’s some robust narratives on either side of this matchup. Poirier is coming off a second title defeat when he continues to get ever so near a championship. Chandler, in the meantime, reveals that he nonetheless has the flashes of brilliance with knockout energy, however comes up brief in large moments as nicely. The battle might be determined by whoever leaves himself uncovered on entry with boxing combos — except Poirier decides to lean on his wrestling sport. Folks imagine that Poirier’s chin could also be prepared to present at any second, however Chandler has the identical points. I am going to take the fighter with extra methods to win the battle — and extra willingness to make the most of his full sport.

Who wins Adesanya vs. Pereira? And the way precisely does every battle finish? Go to SportsLine now to get detailed picks on each battle at UFC 281, all from the incomparable knowledgeable who’s up greater than $13,000 on MMA prior to now three years, and discover out. 

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