Having defeated virtually every contender the Middleweight division has to offer, division champion, Israel Adesanya, looks to settle a score from his kickboxing days when he faces Alex Pereira for a third time (in combat sports) atop UFC 281, which will take place inside Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., this weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022). In other title action, Carla Esparza kicks off her second Strawweight reign against former champ Zhang Weili, while Dustin Poirier battles Michael Chandler in an explosive Lightweight clash in additional main card pay-per-view (PPV) action, and Frankie Edgar makes his final Octagon appearance opposite rising contender Chris Gutierrez.
With Halloween behind us, UFC 281 is the time to save up for a massive Thanksgiving feast. Let’s get you on the right track …
CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to “The Fight Mecca,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2022, featuring two highly-anticipated championship showdowns. In UFC 281’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, will look to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5-seeded contender, Alex Pereira. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV co-main event, women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, intends to defend her newly-won title for the first time against former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Zhang Weili.
Miranda Maverick, Jake Hadley, Johnny Munoz Jr. and Tagir Ulanbekov
Well done, no complaints.
Jinh Yu Frey
I feel like it’s some sort of cosmic joke that I praise Frey for finally showing some aggression of late and her getting wrecked for it. She hadn’t been stopped with strikes since 2017, but Polyana Viana finally got her act together at the worst possible time for me.
I do not revise my assessment that Tamires Vidal is one of the weaker members of UFC’s Bantamweight roster, but it turns out Pascual was worse. I expected her to show at least a little aggression, only for her to sit back and let Vidal do whatever she wanted on the feet.
This one is on me, 100 percent. I initially wanted to avoid the match up because of how hard Lemos hits and how poor Rodriguez’s defense is, but I talked myself into risking it. It was absolutely just a bad move on my part.
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. While I don’t think Minner necessarily threw the fight, he unquestionably entered the cage injured and some member of his team possibly leaked that insider information — crappy situation all around.
UFC 281 Odds For The Under Card:
Brad Riddell (+100) vs. Renato Moicano (-120)
I’d recommend not betting on this one — Moicano’s got some series defensive issues lately and Riddell has a habit of starting slow. There are better betting opportunities.
Dominick Reyes (-205) vs. Ryan Spann (+175)
It’s rare that I’ll lean toward a man on a three-fight losing streak, but I really like the lines on Reyes. Though impressively powerful and opportunistic with his submissions, Spann tends to fall apart whenever things go wrong and has a shaky chin to boot. Reyes’ accuracy and ability to keep his wits about him should allow him to find the mark with a game-changing shot before long, and all that’ll be left afterward is cleanup.
Erin Blanchfield (-390) vs. Molly McCann (+320)
Blanchfield is by far the toughest opponent McCann has faced since her last defeat and she has the same sort of grappling prowess that gave “Meatball” fits in her three UFC losses. She’s levels above McCann on the ground and can hold her own on the feet, so don’t be afraid to slot her into some parlays.
Andre Petroski (-195) vs. Wellington Turman (+165)
Petroski strikes me as undervalued. Though his UFC competition has been limited, he’s shown steady improvements in every area, and I absolutely like his chances against someone who barely eked out a win over Sam Alvey last year. His power and wrestling chops are a huge stylistic issue for Turman, making him a quality investment.
Ottman Azaitar (-115) vs. Matt Frevola (-105)
Be very careful about putting down a lot of money here. I’ve been vocal about not liking to bet on fights where one fighter’s coming off a big layoff, but it’s hard to pass up Frevola. He’s shared the Octagon with far, far stiffer competition than Azaitar, whose history of gassing is a bad sign against Frevola’s punishing pace.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (-120) vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez (EVEN)
Look, if I keep recommending underdog women, one of them’s got to hit eventually, right?
In all seriousness, Gomez Juarez has a serious edge in power and hand speed that should carry her past the similarly aged, but far more weathered, Kowalkiewicz. “La Malvada’s” biggest issues lie on the ground and Kowalkiewicz has never been a consistent takedown artist, so Gomez Juarez should get the striking battle she needs to win.
Seung Woo Choi (-165) vs. Michael Trizano (+140)
I’d avoid this because Choi leaves huge openings when he attacks, but Trizano can be too hesitant to actually exploit them. I feel like watching this with money on the line is just begging for a headache.
Montel Jackson (-200) vs. Julio Arce (+170)
Bet on Jackson, though not a whole lot. As marvelous a technician as Arce is, he’s facing a massive size disadvantage and has been buckled by heavy hitters in the past. Grinding wrestlers are what tend to trouble Jackson and Arce does not fit that bill.
Plus, Arce alternates wins and losses and he’s coming off a decision over Daniel Santos.
Carlos Ulberg (-120) vs. Nicolae Negumereanu (EVEN)
Definitely give me Ulberg here. Negumereanu’s straightforward, plodding approach works against opponents who get caught up trying to match his pace or punish his exposed-but-indestructible chin. Ulberg, however, showed against Fabio Cherant that he can play a boring keep-away game for 15 minutes, and his counters were on point in his last match with Tafon Nchukwi. In short, place a moderate bet on “Black Jag.”
UFC 281 Odds For the Main Card:
Israel Adesanya (-200) vs. Alex Pereira (+170)
I’m leaning Adesanya, though I’m not sure it’s by enough to warrant a bet. The cage being far larger than a kickboxing ring and offering fewer sharp corners should work in his favor, and Pereira doesn’t have a ground game to threaten “The Last Stylebender” the way Robert Whittaker and others have before. Pereira does hit stupid hard, though, and smaller gloves give him more opportunities to land that left hook. Ah, hell, let’s just go for it.
Zhang Weili (-360) vs. Carla Esparza (+295)
Zhang is most likely going to smash Esparza into paste, but she also hasn’t dealt with a wrestler of Esparza’s caliber during her UFC tenure. I’d steer clear.
Dustin Poirier (-215) vs. Michael Chandler (+185)
Poirier all day. He’s certainly the more durable of the two, having not been dropped in more than six years, and he has the superior boxing technique. The biggest threat is Chandler’s wrestling skills combining with Poirier’s habit of chasing fruitless guillotines, but seeing as Chandler isn’t a huge finishing threat from the top, “The Diamond” should have plenty of opportunities to find “Iron’s” not-so-iron chin.
Chris Gutierrez (-215) vs. Frankie Edgar (+185)
As nice as it would be to see Edgar end his career on a win, he’s 10 years older than Gutierrez and has managed just one non-controversial victory in the last five years. If he still had his old, “get dropped in the first round and never again” chin, I’d pick him to exploit Gutierrez’s kick-heavy offense for regular takedowns. Seeing as he’s been violently finished in three of his last four bouts, though, it seems inevitably that Gutierrez will eventually catch him with something nasty. Bet on Gutierrez so there’s something to feel good about even if Edgar loses.
Dan Hooker (-175) vs. Claudio Puelles (+140)
Hooker is free-falling and I can’t pick Puelles’ fights to save my life. Pass …
UFC 281 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Erin Blanchfield and Matt Frevola: Bet $50 to make $72.50
- Parlay — Chris Gutierrez and Silvana Gomez Juarez: Bet $50 to make $96.50
- Parlay — Andre Petroski and Dustin Poirier: Bet $80 to make $97.60
- Parlay — Israel Adesanya and Carlos Ulberg: Bet $60 to make $105
- Parlay — Dominick Reyes and Montel Jackson: Bet $60 to make $73.80
UFC 281 has got a ton of fun that you absolutely do not want to miss. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Initial Investment For 2022: $600
Additional Investment (Aug. 2022): $400
Current Total: $738.92
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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