UFC 281 fight card and start times: Adesanya vs Pereira

Las Vegas – On the anniversary of the first, record-breaking UFC event at Madison Square Garden, UFC returns to the iconic venue with an event headlined by two highly anticipated championship matchups. In the main event, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya looks to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5 ranked contender Alex Pereira. In the co-main event, UFC 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.

This event takes place Sat., November 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the main card at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN+ PPV.  The prelims will be seen on ESPNNEWS, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT with the night’s action starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT with Early Prelims on ESPN+ (English and Spanish) and UFC Fight Pass.

Reigning middleweight king Adesanya (23-1) fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand plans to deliver another statement performance in his second MSG appearance. Arguably the most popular champion in the UFC today, he has established himself as one of the most skilled strikers to ever compete in MMA with wins over former champions Robert Whittaker (twice) and Anderson Silva, as well as Derek Brunson, Marvin Vettori and Paulo Costa. Adesanya now seeks to avenge a pair of kickboxing losses to Pereira and prove he is the best martial artist on the planet. 

Pereira (6-1) fighting out of Danbury, Conn. by way of Sao Paulo, Brazil aims to make the most of his first UFC title opportunity. A former Glory kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight champion, he has burst onto the MMA scene with impressive finishes over Sean Strickland and Andreas Michailidis. Pereira now has his sights set on showing that he is the best striker in MMA by defeating Adesanya once again and claiming 185-gold.

Two-time UFC strawweight champion Esparza (20-6) fighting out of Irvine, Calif. looks to start her new campaign at the top with a dominant victory. Currently on a six-fight win streak, Esparza fought her way back to the title with notable wins over Yan Xiaonan, Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson. She now expects to secure her first successful title defense by neutralizing Zhang.

Former title holder Zhang (22-3) fighting out of Beijing, China seeks to regain her lost crown and cement herself as one of the best fighters in MMA. The first and only Chinese champion in UFC history, she has entertained fans with victories over Joanna Jedrzejczyk (twice), Jessica Andrade and Jessica Aguilar. Zhang now plans to add another UFC champion to her resume by vanquishing Esparza. 

Former light heavyweight title challenger and No. 7 ranked contender Dominick Reyes (12-3) fighting out of Victorville, Calif. returns to action against No. 12 ranked Ryan Spann (22-7) fighting out of Beaumont, Texas. No. 12 ranked women’s flyweight Erin Blachfield (9-1) fighting out of Elmwood Park, NJ looks to halt the momentum of streaking No. 15 ranked Molly McCann (13-4) fighting out of Liverpool, England.

Fan favorite Karolina Kowalkiewicz (14-7) fighting out of Lodz, Poland) meets Silvana Gomez Juarez (7-4) fighting out of Tucuman, Argentina in a women’s strawweight bout. An exciting lightweight bout sees Matt Frevola (9-3-1) fighting out of Long Island, N.Y. lock horns with Ottman Azaitar (13-0) fighting out of Rabat, Morocco. The Ultimate Fighter season 27 winner Michael Trizano (10-3) fighting out of Ramsey, N.J. battles SeungWoo Choi (10-5) fighting out of Seoul, South Korea at featherweight.

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