Sports

Adesanya to defend title vs. Pereira at UFC 281

The UFC has its Madison Square Garden main event.

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

Pereira owns two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, including one via knockout. ESPN has Adesanya ranked tied for 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 a year later via knockout.

Adesanya (23-1) is undefeated in his career at middleweight. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident has won three straight since falling in a light heavyweight title bout to Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. Adesanya, 33, owns five successful title defenses at middleweight, holding the undisputed title since October 2019.

Pereira (6-1) is coming off a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 last month, the same card in which Adesanya defended his title successfully against Jared Cannonier. The Brazilian slugger has five finishes in six career pro MMA victories since coming over from kickboxing.

Pereira, 35, is 3-0 in the UFC with a pair of $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.

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