Israel Adesanya to defend middleweight title vs. Alex Pereira in UFC 281 headliner

The UFC has its main event at Madison Square Garden.

Israel Adesanya will defend his UFC middleweight title against old rival Alex Pereira in the headliner of UFC 281 on November 12 in New York, Adesanya announced at SportsCenter on Friday.

Pereira has two wins against Adesanya in kickboxing, including one by knockout. ESPN has Adesanya third on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At middleweight, Adesanya is No. 1 and Pereira is No. 7. Pereira, a former two-division Glory Kickboxing Champion, beat Adesanya in kickboxing once by decision in 2016 and then again by KO a year later.

Adesanya (23-1) is undefeated in his middleweight career. The Nigerian-born New Zealander has won three in a row since losing in a light heavyweight title fight to Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. Adesanya, 33, has five successful middleweight title defenses and has held the undisputed title since October 2019.

Pereira (6-1) defeated Sean Strickland in the first round at UFC 276 last month, the same map in which Adesanya successfully defended his title against Jared Cannonier. The Brazilian slugger has five placements in six career pro MMA wins since stepping out of kickboxing.

Pereira, 35, is 3-0 in the UFC with two $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses to his name. Israel Adesanya to defend middleweight title vs. Alex Pereira in UFC 281 headliner

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