UFC women’s strawweight Zhang Weili lifts heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou

Israel Adesanya defends his middleweight title against Alex Pereira in the UFC 281 main event at Madison Square Garden tonight, as the champion looks to avenge two kickboxing defeats to his challenger.

Adesanya is unbeaten at middleweight in mixed martial arts, his sole professional loss having come while challenging for light heavyweight gold last year. But the Nigerian-born New Zealander’s kickboxing career involved a few losses, with Brazilian Pereira having outpointed Adesanya in 2016 and knocked out the “Last Stylebender” in 2017. Pereira, 35, is 6-1 in MMA, having won five of those bouts via knockout while being fast-tracked to a title shot in New York City tonight.

In the co-main event, Carla Esparza begins her second reign as women’s strawweight champion with a title defence against Zhang Weili, who held the belt between 2019 and 2021. In her last outing, the Chinese fighter knocked out icon Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a spinning back elbow, while Esparza outpointed Zhang’s recent rival Rose Namajunas to claim the gold. In the night’s other featured bout, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler meet in a huge lightweight clash. Follow live round-by-round updates from the UFC 281 main card and prelims, below.

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Pereira has regained his senses and urges the crowd to make some noise.

Izzy is looser now. He kicks to the legs then body of Pereira, who marches forward nevertheless.

Brutal left hook to the body from Pereira. He’s trapping Adesanya against the fence.

Pereira blocks a head kick but eats a jab. The fighters clinch against the fence, and Pereira lands a harsh knee that seems to hurt the champion.

Adesanya lifts Pereira slightly! The men separate, then Adesanya connects with a jab and a right cross.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:39

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Pereira is biting massively on Adesanya’s feints. The challenger comes forward now, and Adesanya reaches out to grab his gloves. The champion looks a tad nervous.

Pereira with a glancing head kick; Adesanya with a solid low kick, then a body kick.

Pereira kicks to the body, before Adesanya kicks low once more.

Pereira is backing up Adesanya and narrowly misses with a left hook, then a knee!

Adesanya with a firm body lock late in the round, but Pereira lands a number of body punches in there… The pair then separate.

OH! ADESANYA CLIPS PEREIRA WITH A RIGHT HAND, AND PEREIRA IS OUT ON HIS FEET!

Then a left hook on the buzzer, and Pereira almost goes down! WOW!

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:36

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Pereira comes straight out with a jumping front kick! He just misses. He looks massive in there.

Low kick from Adesanya. Lots of feints from the champion. The arena is strangely quiet; it must be the tension.

Another leg kick from Adesanya. Pereira now returns the favour, before kicking high. He eats a stern jab, though.

Pereira’s stance is very much an upright one. Adesanya just about sees a head kick blocked. Nice counter jab from the champion, then a fierce right cross over the top.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:32

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Adesanya vs Pereira for the UFC middleweight title.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:30

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A mixed reaction for Adesanya.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:29

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UFC 281 LIVE

Pereira’s nickname, “Poatan”, translates from Portuguese to English as “Hands of Stone”.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:29

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Boos as Pereira is introduced!

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:28

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Adesanya’s run to the middleweight title, and his reign since, have been phenomenal.

The 33-year-old claimed the belt within 18 months of making his UFC debut, and he has retained it five times since winning it.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:25

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Adesanya said he wants this fight to be a “horror movie”. Well, his walkout is Saw-themed.

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:24

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Now here comes the “Last Stylebender”, one of the most dynamic strikers in MMA.

Will he use his greater experience in the sport to grapple Pereira at all tonight?

Alex Pattle13 November 2022 05:22



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