The octagon returns to the Big Apple as the iconic Madison Square Garden plays host to UFC 281, with two title fights at the top of a packed fight card in New York City.
Headlining the event is a fascinating third fight between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, as “The Last Stylebender” puts his undisputed middleweight title on the line against the man who twice defeated him in the kickboxing ring earlier in their careers. Pereira’s rise up the middleweight division has been rapid, with their prior meetings for kickboxing promotion Glory setting the stage for an epic third encounter, this time under mixed martial arts rules.
The co-main event will see two-time women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza look to do something she hasn’t yet achieved in the UFC, register a successful title defence, when she takes on hard-hitting former champion Zhang Weili. It’s a bout that has the champion pegged as a significant underdog against a fighter many believe to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in women’s MMA.
The two title fights round off a huge night in New York, but they’re not the only story. There’s also a massive matchup for the lightweight division as former interim champion Dustin Poirier takes on former three-time Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler in a matchup that should propel the winner right into the middle of a crowded championship picture at 155 pounds.
Ahead of fight night, check out the UFC’s feature-length preview film as they go behind the scenes as they set the scene ahead of each of the three aforementioned blockbuster bouts. Check out “UFC 281 Countdown” below.