UFC 281: Adesanya vs. Pereira is almost here which means it’s time for our official Overtime Heroics-UFC 281 Staff Picks! Our writers and editors have all picked their winners for the main card, and it’s round 11 of our yearlong competition to see who comes out on top!
UFC 281 Main Card
- Lightweight Bout- #12 Dan Hooker (21-12) vs. Claudio Puelles (12-2)
- Bantamweight Bout- #12 Frankie Edgar (24-10-1) vs. Chris Gutierrez (18-4-2)
- Lightweight Bout- #2 Dustin Poirier (28-7-1) vs. #5 Michael Chandler (23-7)
- Strawweight Title Bout- (C) Carla Esparza (19-6) vs. #2 Weili Zhang (22-3)
- Middleweight Title Bout- (C) Israel Adesanya (23-1) vs. #4 Alex Pereira (6-1)
UFC 281 is scheduled for November 12th, 2022, at Madison Square Garden in New York, United States.
UFC 281 Co-Main Event- (C) Carla Esparza vs. Weili Zhang
Justin Gibbons: This was a difficult pick for me as Carla Esparza worked hard to get to where she is, despite the Rose fight at UFC 274. I ultimately went with Weili Zhang based on how dominant some of her performances have been – when her power lands, it’s super devastating. In the rematch with Joanna Jędrzejczyk, sending Joanna into retirement was a huge statement. After losing her belt, Weili Zhang has seemed to constantly stay at the top of the division with her growing skill set. Zhang via. Decision
Cooper Burke: As long as she can maintain a strong takedown defense in her second bout with the best wrestler in the 115-pound division, Zhang Weili should outclass Esparza on the feet easily. Although she does not hit very hard, she is technical on the feet and should give “The Cookie Monster” a handful. Expect Weili to walk away from the fight with a win, and a big one at that. Zhang via. Decision
Austin Marr: Zhang has shown glimpses of above average wrestling and grappling ability and I don’t expect her to be gun-shy from engaging with Esparza like Rose Namajunas was. Like Cooper mentioned, as long as Zhang can maintain a good takedown defense game or at least not spend a lot of time on her back, her ferocious striking and relentless pressure should score her the W. Zhang via. TKO 3rd Round
Main Event- (C) Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
Justin Gibbons: The fight between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira is so exciting and well deserved to be headlining inside the historic Madison Square Garden. The well-documented history between the two is something that brings an intense feeling to a championship fight. My pick is, and will always be, with Israel Adesanya. I understand the violent power that Alex Pereira possesses, but I told myself I will never pick against Izzy after the moment he had between rounds against Kelvin Gastelum.
Alex Pereira is the biggest threat to Izzy’s title, but he has heard that before and seems to always pass the test. If Izzy can get past Alex Pereira, there is a strong argument for him being the Greatest of All Time at Middleweight. Adesanya via. KO/TKO Round 4
Cooper Burke: I fully expect Adesanya to utilize his otherworldly movement skills that helped propel him to the top of the 185-pound division. Pereira will not have seen anything like it, as Adesanya has grown tremendously since their first fight. Pereira will struggle to land heavy blows and Adesanya will do everything in his power to land devastating counters and should finish this fight in the title rounds. Adesanya via. KO/TKO Round 4
Austin Marr: Yes, Pereira has beat Adesanya twice and once by KO in Kickboxing but baby, this isn’t kickboxing. The pairs first fight was a lot closer than some would have you believe and the second fight, Adesanya was winning up until getting caught, it happens. This is an MMA fight, something that Adesanya has far more experience in and honestly will be a huge factor, in my opinion. This is just Pereira’s fourth UFC fight and eighth MMA fight overall; he’s never been past a third round and looked a little faded the last time seen in a third round against Bruno Silva.
Izzy should prove to be far more comfortable in the cage at UFC 281, especially in the later rounds and his footwork and movement should prove to be key. I don’t expect much grappling but if it happens, Adesanya is definitely the more polished fighter there. Adesanya via. KO/TKO Round 4
UFC 281: Main Card Picks
How do you think our UFC 281 Staff Picks will play out? Let us know in the comments!