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UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira preview & best bets – Nov 12, 2022

Israel Adesanya v Alex Pereira UFC 281 preview

Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira

Latest Odds & Fight Info

Main Event odds Adesanya -192.31 at Bovada | Pereira +155 at Bovada
When Saturday, November 12 – main card from 10pm EST
Where Madison Square Garden – New York, United States
Watch Live ESPN+ PPV (US), BT Sport (UK), Main Event (AU)

The UFC 281 main event from Madison Square Garden this Saturday night is a must-see fight between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira — two elite middleweights with a rivalry to settle.

Israel Adesanya (23-1-0) is the most dominant middleweight in UFC history. He captured the interim title in April 2019, then the unified belt in October 2019, and has retained the title across five defences since. His only UFC loss occurred at light heavyweight when his ambitions overran his size and talent. Moving up a weight class to fight a man 20 pounds heavier without months of carefully bulking up proved a bridge too far for the Kiwi and he was soundly beaten by Jan Blochowicz. Back at his correct division, Adesanya has remained untroubled by his 185-pound rivals to date.

The only criticism of Adesanya is that some of his fights can be dull affairs. He is not a stand-and-trade type fighter who is prepared to wear heavy shots to launch his own attack. Adesanya stands 6’4″ with an 80-inch reach, which is normally a huge advantage over standard 185-pounders. He therefore fights from a long range that suits his physique. In closer quarters his opponent can reach Adesanya with jabs and kicks, but from a long range many of his opponents spend long rounds swinging at air.

Adesanya is also a smart fighter who does not want to shorten his career by wearing unnecessary damage. He dances around the ring out of reach and launches long, looping kicks and punches to score enough points to win each round. With his strong kickboxing pedigree, Adesanya does have effective knees and elbows when fighting chest to chest, so his game plan is based on maintaining either long range or dropping elbows if he ends up in grappling spots. His danger zone is the middle range, where an opponent like Robert Whittaker could land his heavy artillery, so this area is carefully avoided.

Adesanya made his way to the UFC via a long kickboxing career. He fought in 80 kickboxing contests and recorded 75 wins. It is common for kickboxers to rack up huge fight numbers because bouts are often only three rounds and can be undertaken with minimal damage. The twist to this title fight is that among Adesanya’s losses lurks a familiar name – Alex Pereira. The Brazilian knocked the Kiwi out cold in a kickboxing contest staged back in March 2017. This was their second encounter after Pereira won the first fight via decision. This backstory is the crucial ingredient for the UFC 281 main event.

READ: Best betting sites for UFC odds

Alex Pereira (6-1-0) joined the UFC roster in November 2021 and has been unbeaten in three appearances in the premier promotion. His only MMA loss occurred at his first attempt at the new sport when he was choked out at Jungle Fight 82 in Brazil in October 2015. He must have watched his former kickboxing rival climb to the top of the MMA pile and been envious of the fame and financial success associated with the world’s fastest growing sport. Kickboxers receive pennies in comparison to the UFC riches.

Pereira most recently dispatched the highly credential Sean Strickland with a devastating left-hook KO in the first round to set up this shot at UFC gold. Apart from the history between these fighters, the other notable factor is that Pereira also stand 6’4″ and suffers only a one-inch reach disadvantage in this matchup. It is unlikely that either fighter will take this bout to the ground, so we should witness one of the highest-level standup contests ever staged in the UFC octagon.

While Adesanya looks to have a ringcraft and movement advantage over Pereira, the Brazilian appears to have a solid power advantage. If there is to be a knockout, we expect it to come from the challenger. Pereira has the psychological advantage with his earlier victories, and it will be fascinating to see if the normally ice cool Adesanya is perturbed by having his nemesis opposite.

So how does this blockbuster play out? Who emerges victorious from the Adesanya–Periera trilogy? With their almost identical skill sets, it should be an enthralling fight. We expect Pereira to be the aggressor and walk Adesanya down, so the champ’s counter-striking will be the key. If Adesanya can slip the challenger’s attacks and counter effectively, he should get away with another points victory. But if the Brazilian lands something heavy, another knockout beckons.

We are tipping Pereira to win and be crowned middleweight champion of the world. For those looking for betting safety, back Adesanya via points at +115 and Pereira via knockout at +250 with Bovada. Enjoy this fight, it will be one for the purists.

Alex Pereira to win


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