UFC 281 Results – Main Event
In the night’s main event, former kickboxing foes now meet in the octagon as Israel Adesanya puts his middleweight title on the line against Alex Pereira. These two met twice when they were competing in kickboxing. Pereira beat Adesanya in both of those meetings with the first of them being a unanimous decision win. In their next meeting, Adesanya had some success up until his was finished by knockout in the third round.
At that point, Adesanya had already started his MMA career as he held a record of 9-0. Following the loss to Pereira, he made the full transition to MMA and since then has put together a record of 14-1, capturing the middleweight championship during that time. Adesanya won the championship back in 2019 after he became interim champion in a wild fight with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236. He unified the titles with the champion at that time, Robert Whittaker, facing him at UFC 243. Adesanya became champion that night after he finished Whittaker in the second round by knockout.
After that, Adesanya went on to successfully defend his middleweight title twice. The first defense was a unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 248. That was followed by a second round TKO finish of Paulo Costa in their matchup at UFC 253. After those wins, Adesanya made the jump up to light heavyweight where he challenged then-champion Jan Blachowicz for the 205-pound title. Unfortunately, Adesanya suffered his first loss in MMA in that fight as Blachowicz cruised to an easy unanimous decision victory to retain the title. Since that fight, Adesanya has gone back to middleweight where he has put together three straight successful title defenses all by way of unanimous decision over Marvin Vettori at UFC 263, Whittaker again at UFC 271, and in his most recent outing, Jared Cannonier at UFC 276. Adesanya will be looking for his sixth title defense but also, he will be looking to get a win over a man that has beat him twice in kickboxing.
That man standing from Adesanya, Alex Pereira, enters this fight with a 6-1 record since he made the jump over to MMA. He suffered his only loss in his MMA debut, getting submitted by rear naked choke against Quemuel Ottoni. After that fight, Pereira picked up three straight finishes to earn him a UFC contract after just his fourth professional fight.
He made his UFC debut just over a year ago at last year’s MSG card. In that fight, he picked up a TKO win in round two against Andreas Michailidis. Following that fight, he picked up his second win in the octagon with a unanimous decision win over Bruno Silva at UFC Vegas 50. Finally, in his most recent outing, Pereira earned his shot at the title with a knockout win over Sean Strickland in the first round of their fight at UFC 276. Pereira looks to pick up a third win overall against Adesanya and if he does so, will be crowned UFC champion just one year after he made his debut.
UFC 281 Results – Co-Main Event
In Saturday’s co-main event, another title will be on the line as tw0-time women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza looks for her fist defense of her second title stint as she takes on former champion Zhang Weili. Esparza became strawweight champion for the first time when the division itself was created. She faced Rose Namajunas in the finale of TUF season 20, and that season also crowned the first strawweight champion. Esparze defeated Namajunas by third round submission to become the champion. Unfortunately, she would lose the title in her next outing when she suffered a second round TKO loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Now, about seven years since she lost the belt, Esparza fought her way back to the top and became champion once again. After back-to-back losses in 2018 to Claudia Gadelha and Tatiana Suarez, Esparza went on a six fight win streak that ended with the belt wrapped around her waist. She started off with two decision wins in 2019, defeating Virna Jandiroba by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 150 and Alexa Grasso by majority decision at UFC Fight Night 159.
After that, Esparza picked up two more split decision wins in 2020 with one over Michelle Waterson at UFC 249 and Marina Rodriguez at UFC on ESPN 14. In her only fight during 2021, Esparza secured her next shot at the title with a second round TKO win over Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 27. When she challenged for the title again, she faced the woman she beat to win it the first time, Rose Namajunas. The two met again in the co-main event of UFC 274 and after a lackluster fight between the two, Esparza came out victorious, becoming champion for a second time.
Her opponent will also be looking to become a two-time champion as Zhang Weili looks to take back the belt she lost to Namajunas at UFC 261. Zhang had quickly become UFC champion after just three fights in the octagon. She faced Danielle Taylor in her debut at UFC 227 and won the fight by unanimous decision. Following that win, Zhang picked up a submission finish against Jessica Aguilar in the first round of their fight at UFC Fight Night 141. In her third UFC fight, she picked up a big unanimous decision win over Tecia Torres.
Following those three wins, Zhang was awarded with a shot at the champion of the time, Jessica Andrade. The two met at UFC Fight Night 157 in Shenzhen, China and Zhang became champion that night after finishing Andrade in forty-two seconds by TKO. In her first title defense, Zhang faced former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 and defeated her by split decision in what was arguably the best fight of 2020.
Following that win over Jedrzejczyk, Zhang faced Namajunas at UFC 261, hoping to secure her second title defense. Unfortunately, Namajunas would end up finishing Zhang in that fight, knocking her out with a head kick to become a two-time strawweight champion. An immediate rematch was booked for UFC 268 and Namajunas came out with the victory once again as this time she defeated Zhang by split decision. Since then, in Zhang’s most recent outing, she faced Jedrzejczyk again and picked up a finish this time as she knocked her out with a spinning backfist in round two.
UFC 281 Results – Main Card
Kicking things off in New York City for UFC 281’s main card will be a matchup in the lightweight division as twelfth-ranked contender Dan Hooker takes on Claudio Puelles. Hooker is coming into this fight on a two-fight losing streak after dropping a submission to Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 followed by a TKO loss to Arnold Allen at UFC Fight Night 204. As for Puelles, he comes into the fight having won his last five in a row. In his last two outings, he has picked up back-to-back kneebar submissions against Chris Gruetzemacher at UFC Vegas 44 and Clay Guida at UFC Vegas 52.
Following that fight will be a fight in the bantamweight division as former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar makes one last trip to the octagon in front of his east coast fanbase as he faced off against Chris Gutierrez. Edgar is coming into this fight with back-to-back knockout losses in his last two outings. The first of those was a flying knee knockout against Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 18, followed by a front kick knockout against Marlon Vera at UFC 268. Gutierrez will be coming into the fight with three straight wins behind him. He picked up two decision wins over Andre Ewell at UFC 258 and Felipe Corales at UFC Vegas 39, plus a second round TKO finish over Danaa Batgerel in his most recent fight at UFC on ESPN 33.
Finally, before the co-main event goes down there will be a huge matchup in the lightweight division as Dustin Poirier takes on Micheal Chandler. Poirier holds a record of 3-1 in his last four fights coming into this one while Chandler is 2-2. After coming up short for the title against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242, Poirier went on to win his next three in a row. The first of those was a unanimous decision win over Dan Hooker in the main event of UFC on ESPN 12. That was followed up by a series of fights with former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Poirier won both of those fights by TKO setting himself up for another shot at the title, this time against Charles Oliveira. Poirier came up short once again, suffering a submission loss to Oliveira in that fight at UFC 269.
Chandler on the other hand, made his UFC debut four fights ago in 2021. He made his debut against Hooker at UFC 257 and made his presence known immediately as he finished Hoooker in the first round by TKO. After that, Chandler earned a shot at the vacant lightweight title, facing Oliveira for it at UFC 262. Oliveira emerged the winner that night as he finished Chandler in the second round by TKO. That loss was followed up with another one for Chandler as he went on to lose a unanimous decision to Justin Gaethje at UFC 268. In his most recent outing, Chandler snapped his two fight losing streak and picked up a second round knockout win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 274.
UFC 281 Results
MAIN CARD (PPV/ESPN+ – 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST)
Alex Pereira def. Israel Adesanya via TKO (Punches) at 2:01 of Round Five
Zhang Weili def. Carla Esparza via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:05 of Round Two
Dustin Poirier def. Michael Chandler via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:00 of Round Three
Chris Gutierrez def. Frankie Edgar via Knockout (Knee) at 2:01 of Round One
Dan Hooker def. Claudio Puelles via TKO (Leg Kicks) at 4:06 of Round Two
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPNews – 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST)
Renato Moicano def. Brad Riddell via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:20 of Round One
Ryan Spann* def. Dominick Reyes via Knockout (Punch) at 1:20 of Round One
Erin Blanchfield def. Molly McCann via Submission (Kimura) at 3:37 of Round One
Andre Petroski def. Wellington Turman via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass – 6 p.m. EST/3 p.m. PST)
Matt Frevola def. Ottman Azaitar via Knockout (Punches) at 2:30 of Round One
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Silvana Gomez Juarez via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Michael Trizano** def. Seungwoo Choi via Knockout (Punches) at 4:51 of Round One
Montel Jackson def. Julio Arce via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Carlos Ulberg def. Nicolae Negumereanu via Knockout (Punches) at 3:44 of Round One
*Spann missed weight at 206.6 pounds and will forfeit 20 percent of his purse
**Trizano missed weight at 147.6 pounds and will forfeit 20 percent of his purse
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