The UFC heads to Madison Square Gardens in New York for a stacked pay-per-view card. In the main event Israel Adesanya faces Alex Pereira, as the champion looks to avenge his two kickboxing losses to the challenger. In the co-main Carla Esparza faces Weili Zhang and Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier meet in a fight sure to have fans on the edge of their seats. We take a look at my best bets on the card below.
UFC 281 Preview & Betting Picks
Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
Israel Adesanya’s Middleweight reign has been dominant apart from the second fight with Robert Whittaker. I have said for some time Whittaker is the only man who I can see knocking him off at Middleweight but the divison needed a new challenger with a different story line and that is what we get here.
Alex Pereira has taken the UFC by storm, largely due to him being the last man to knock out Adesanya, albeit in kickboxing. The Brazilian is 2-0 against The Last Stylebender but it is dangerous to take that on face value. In their first encounter, the fight went the distance and I believe Adesanya deserved to get his hand raised. In their second fight Adesanya was in control up until he was caught by a killer punch. Even if you put more weight on those results than you should, Adesanya has come on leaps and bounds since, excels when he is able to counterpunch, which Pereira will feed into, has the greater skillset and five-round fight experience. While Pereira catching Adesanya is plausible, I am very confident The Last Stylebender puts on an absolute clinic and finishes the Brazilian, in a statement win.
Carla Esparza vs. Weili Zhang
Carla Esparza won the Women’s Strawweight title in one of the all-time strangest title fights against Rose Namajunas. Weili Zhang gets the perfect opportunity to become the champion again and comes into this bout off an unbelievably perfect spinning back fist knockout of former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Zhang will have a large striking and strength advantage here and I just can’t see Esparza being able to take her to the mat. Zhang marches her down and unloads for a vicious knockout victory.
Erin Blanchfield vs. Molly McCann
I am completely bamboozled by why the UFC have put this fight on but we may as well profit off it. Erin Blanchfield is just 23-years-old and is in my opinion the future Flyweight champion. Her wrestling is well beyond her years and her striking has improved rapidly since joining the premier MMA organisation. She was tested by JJ Aldrich last time out but still pulled off an impressive round 2 submission. Before that she completely dominated Miranda Maverick who has won her two fights since in dominant fashion, the latest a unanimous 30-26 decision victory. Molly McCann has a big personality, finishing power and a three-fight winning streak but she is nowhere near the level of Blanchfield. It is infuriating because McCann has struggled with wrestlers before and they have given her two fights perfect to build her up just to throw her to the absolute grappling beast that is Blanchfield. Anyway it is what is is and we may as well profit off it so max play on Blanchfield who should be able to do whatever she wants to Meatball.