The UFC returns to the ‘Mecca’ of sports, Madison Square Garden in New York City for UFC 281 on Saturday, November 12. The headline fight on the card will be for the UFC middleweight championship when Israel Adesanya defends against longtime foe Alex Pereira. The main card will start at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV. The main event is expected to start around 12:30 a.m. ET.
Pereira (6-1), a +180 underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook, is a relative newcomer to mixed martial arts. He is one of the great kickboxers and held the middleweight and light heavyweight championships in Glory at the same thing. He has also beaten Adesanya twice in the past, once by knockout.
There isn’t much from Pereira on the MMA side. He only has three fights in the UFC. But his win over Sean Strickland at UFC 276 is what earned him the shot. It was a “Performance of the Night” quality win. Strickland came into the fight undefeated at middleweight and ranked No. 4 in the division, but Pereira stood right in the pocket with him and connected with kicks to the leg and the midsection.
For whatever reason Strickland wanted to stand and kickbox with Pereira instead of taking a shot or trying to test Pereira’s takedown defense. Pereira waited and hit a perfect left hook followed by a right to put Strickland down and out at 2:36 of the first round.