Big Fights in the Big Apple: UFC 281 Comes to New York

By: Ronan McEvoy

This Saturday, Nov 12, Madison Square Garden will be the home for UFC 281. This card is stacked with two title fights and a lightweight contender fight.

The main event for this card is between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira for the middleweight championship. The pair have already fought twice before in kickboxing, but this will be the first time these two square off in an MMA bout. Pereira beat Adesanya both times with the first being a decision win, and the second fight ending with Pereira knocking out Adesanya. 

Adesanya has said that Pereira’s knockout was nothing more than a fluke and plans to even the score and knock Pereira out cold. It’s been a long time since the two have faced off and since then both fighters have evolved. Adesanya is on a five-fight title defense and Pereira is 3-0 since joining the UFC. With both fighter’s kickboxing background, this fight will surely be one of the most exciting middleweight fights this year. 

“This one is hard to decide,” said Tyler Mulhern, UT senior and UFC fan. “Izzy is just so good at movement both defensively and offensively. He has great counters too, but if Pereira lands that nasty left hook it can be over quick.” 

The co-main event of the card is between Carla Esparza and Weili Zhang for the women’s strawweight championship. 

Esparza won her last fight against Rose Namajunas to win the strawweight belt. While it may have been a great night for her, it was not that great for the fans watching. Fans in the area booed while fans at home jumped to Twitter to discuss how boring the fight was. This fight is an opportunity for Esparza to regain fans and put on a great performance against the dangerous stand up of Weili. 

This fight is the classic matchup of striker versus grappler. Esparza is a BJJ brown belt and Weili has won 11 fights by KO/TKO. In Esparza’s last fight, she used her takedowns to win her fight, but Weili’s nasty knees and elbows could stop Esparza from consistent shooting. 

“I just hope this one is entertaining,” said Chris Palko, UT senior and UFC fan. “I know Weili will bring that constant pressure and power so I’m interested to see how Esparza will perform.” 

The third fight on this card is a lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. Both fighters are top five contenders, and this fight may determine who will get a shot at the title. 

When Chandler first came to the UFC, the two were friendly towards each other online and in person. However, at UFC 276 the two got into a heated argument cage side before being separated by security and other attendees. Since then, the two have thrown some shots online and in interviews.

Both fighters are quite evenly matched, but Poirier has a slight edge on the stand up while Chandler has a slight edge in his wrestling. This fight will likely stay on the feet as both fighters know that a knockout will boost them even further towards that title shot.

“This fight is one we have had the option to see multiple times,” said Andrew Elman, UT senior and UFC fan. “The two fighters both lost to Charles Olivera and as he has lost his Championship belt, so they feel like they should get the next shot at the belt.”

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