UFC 281 has officially got its double championship headliner and a venue.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has officialized its return to New York City, New York, with a thrilling event headlined by the much-anticipated middleweight championship clash between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira. The pair will collide at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12. In the co-main event, women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza looks to notch her first title defense as she takes on former divisional queen Zhang Weili.
Current UFC middleweight kingpin Adesanya (23-1, 12-1 UFC) is looking for revenge against former two-division Glory kickboxing champion Pereira. The long-term rivals have a history that dates back to both athletes' kickboxing days when "Poatan" defeated Adesanya twice. In their first encounter, Pereira took home a unanimous decision; then, the Brazilian rendered "The Last Stylebender" unconscious with a vicious counter left hook knockout. Now, Pereira (6-1, 3-0 UFC) earned his title shot after piling up three consecutive victories, including a remarkable first-round KO against Sean Strickland in July.
Two-time strawweight queen Esparza (20-6, 11-4 UFC) is coming off a solid performance against former titleholder Rose Namajunas in May. On that occasion, "Cookie Monster" defeated Namajunas again thanks to a split-decision victory. Zhang (22-3, 6-2 UFC) aims to recapture the divisional belt following a highlight-reel spinning backfist knockout victory at the expense of Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 275.
In some other UFC 281 action, former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes clashes with Ryan Spann; Erin Blanchfield faces Molly McCann at women’s flyweight; Karolina Kowalkiewicz collides with Silvana Gomez Juarez; and 155-pounder Matt Frevola battles Ottman Azaitar.