UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his title against kickboxing rival Alex Pereira in the main event of UFC 281 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, USA.
The pair previously fought twice in kickboxing competition where Pereira got the better of the UFC champion. Pereira defeated Adesanya by unanimous decision and knockout under the Glory of Heroes banner.
Israel Adesanya (23-1) has successfully defended his title 5 times since dethroning Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in 2019. The New Zealander defeated Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori, Robert Whittaker, and Jared Cannonier during his title reign. Adesanya made an unsuccessful attempt of becoming a double champion when he challenged Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259 last year.
Alex Pereira (6-1) is currently undefeated in the UFC with 3 wins since debuting in 2021. Pereira has earned himself $100,000 in Performance of the Night bonuses with highlight reel knockouts of Sean Strickland and Andreas Michailidis. The highly decorated kickboxer Pereira has a professional kickboxing record of 33-7 with 21 wins by knockouts. The Brazilian has held the middleweight and light heavyweight titles during his run with the world’s premier kickboxing league Glory.
UFC 281 Main Card
Middleweight: Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Alex Pereira
Women’s Strawweight: Carla Esparza (c) vs. Zhang Weili
Lightweight: Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler
Bantamweight: Frankie Edgar vs. Chris Gutiérrez
Lightweight: Dan Hooker vs. Claudio Puelles
UFC 281 Preliminary Card
Lightweight: Brad Riddell vs. Renato Moicano
Light Heavyweight: Dominick Reyes vs. Ryan Spann
Women’s Flyweight: Molly McCann vs. Erin Blanchfield
Middleweight: Andre Petroski vs. Wellington Turman
UFC Early Preliminary Card
Lightweight: Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
Women’s Strawweight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Silvana Gómez Juárez
Featherweight: Michael Trizano vs. Choi Seung-woo
Bantamweight: Julio Arce vs. Montel Jackson
Light Heavyweight: Carlos Ulberg vs. Nicolae Negumereanu