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Joe Gee
Joe Gee

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Looking ahead to UFC 281

On November 12th, UFC heads back to Madison Square Garden for UFC 281. The long awaited MMA clash of two familiar foes in Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira, the Women's straweight title fight between Carla Esparza and Weili Zhang, and the "people's" bout of the night Michael Chandler vs. Dustin Poirer.

The main card will start off with a lightweight bout between Dan Hooker and Claudio Puelles. Claudio is an up and coming lightweight looking to skyrocket after beating a big name in the division and the 'Hangman' is looking to redirect his career course.

After a string of upsetting defeats, Hooker is looking to get back in the win column against a 26-year-old Puelles. Hangman was once a title contender and still a fan favorite. He is looking to post an early win for City Kickboxing, but if he continues his skid in performances Claudio Puelles will surely get the win.

Next, a bantamweight bout between Frankie Edgar and Chris Gutierrez. This has the same blueprint of the first fight where a once established, title contender (except Edgar was once the lightweight champion) is fighting a younger guy. Edgar, 41, is coming off of a loss to Chito Vera at UFC 268.

Gutierrez, 31 is coming off of a win ay UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus. So, the young guy has a chance to beat a big name and start staking his claim in the bantamweight division.

The fight that every fight fan is excited for is the Chandler/Poirer fight. The fight has had an interesting build-up to this point. At Chandler's first UFC event he fought on the co-main of Dustin Poirer and Conor Mcgregor, now he is a mainstay at the top of the lightweight division.

Two years ago when asked by media if he would consider fighting Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirer said that he felt that Michael Chandler needed to earn his stripes in the UFC before he got a fight with him. He has done so with flying colors.

Since then, Poirer and Chandler have had a confrontation at a UFC event. As far as fight analysis goes, I actually think Chandler would have more wins in the UFC if he was not such a crowd pleaser. I cannot name a fighter that matches the intention of pleasing the fans every time he/she steps into the octagon like Michael Chandler does.

Despite being a world-class wrestler, Chandler chooses to stand and bang with people. He has not yet fought the level of boxer that the 'Diamond' is yet, though. It will be interesting to see Chandler's gameplan for this fight. I do think this fight favors Dustin. Despite coming off of a loss to the hottest fighter in the promotion (as of late) in Charles Oliveira, Dustin had his moments in that fight and in his last 3 fights has looked like he is at the peak of his prime.

I expect fireworks and a finish. My prediction is Poirer in round 3, but I could see this fight go either way. Both of these lightweights have hammer-hands and will surely both be looking for the KO.

The women's straweight championship is on the line in the co-main between Carla Esparza and Weile Zhang. Zhang is coming off of a spinning backfist knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Esparza, on the other hand, is coming off of a no-action title win over Rose Namajunas in a bout that had about as little action as any MMA fight I have ever seen.

If the last fights of these fighters is any indication of a winner Zhang takes it with no problem. In reality, Esparza is a dominant wrestler, but in her last two fights Weili has looked like a different fighter on the ground after visiting Henry Cejudo's gym. I think she gets it done, but my prediction is that the fight goes the distance.

The main event is one of the coolest stories in the MMA world right now. A rivalry that precedes both fighters UFC careers. Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira have fought twice prior to their fight in the Garden, Periera winning both. One by decision and one by knockout. Ironically, since stepping onto the UFC scene, Israel Adesanya has been seemingly unbeatable in the 185 weight class. His only loss is at 205 whilst trying to claim a second championship at light heavyweight. Alex Pereira's UFC career has been promoted almost solely by his defeats of Adesanya.

He is a scary, scary opponent. He has proven that his left hand is a sniper rifle, taking out opponents with one shot. His latest win is over Sean Strickland and he ended it within the first round. When Adesanya was coming up, he was knocking out opponents. Deep into his title-reign though, he is getting criticized of point fighting and just doing enough to win.

Pereira promises to lead the fight, he will not let Izzy fight and counterstrike from the outside. he wants to apply pressure and make Izzy dig deep within himself to beat him. It is going to be interesting and I do not doubt that on the feet this game would be a chess match, but I could also see Izzy using his increased level of grappling in this fight.

Having lost to 'Poatan' twice the 'Stylebender' may lean on grappling instead of standing up. He has said multiple times "this is an MMA fight now, he beat me in kickboxing." If the fight ends early I think it will be in Pereira's favor, but the deeper the fight goes I like Izzy.

It is an incredibly interesting fight, there is no doubt that their first meeting in the octagon will have the world watching. As an Izzy fan, I am hoping for redemption and revenge for the 'Stylebender.' This is arguably his biggest test to date. Not only does he have to beat a tough opponent, but he has to win the battle of the past in his mind.

The story seems right out of a book, we will see the ending on November 12th in Madison Square Garden.

Written by Joe Gee

Top comments (2)

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anirbularee_571 profile image
Anir Bularee

It is an incredibly interesting fight, there is no doubt that their first meeting in the octagon will have the world watching. As an Izzy fan, I am hoping for redemption and revenge for the 'Stylebender.'

I think most people feel like this mate tbh, everyone wants to see the ascending Izzy.

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hannahwoking1 profile image
hannahwoking

The women's straweight championship is on the line in the co-main between Carla Esparza and Weile Zhang

I forgot all about this one!!! I’m a big Weile Zhang fan, she’s a monster in thr Octagon yet sweeymt as pie on the outside