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.
"UFC 281: Adesanya vs. Pereira" takes place Saturday, November 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City with the main card at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ pay-per-view. The prelims will be seen on ESPNNEWS, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET with the night's action starting at 6 p.m. ET with early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.
UFC Fight Club members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets Wednesday, August 24 at 10 a.m. ET via the website UFCFightClub.com. A special Internet ticket pre-sale will be available to UFC newsletter subscribers Thursday, August 25 starting at 10 a.m. ET. To access this presale, users must register for the UFC newsletter through UFC.com.
Reigning middleweight king Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) 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 MMA, 3-0 UFC) 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 (19-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) 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 MMA, 6-2 UFC) 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.
Additional bouts on the card include:
- Former light heavyweight title challenger and No. 7-ranked contender Dominick Reyes (12-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) returns to action against No. 12-ranked Ryan Spann (20-7 MMA, 6-2 UFC)
- No. 12-ranked women’s flyweight Erin Blanchfield (9-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) looks to halt the momentum of streaking No. 15 ranked Molly McCann (13-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC)
- Fan favorite Karolina Kowalkiewicz (13-7 MMA, 6-7 UFC) meets Silvana Gomez Juarez (11-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in a women’s strawweight bout
- An exciting lightweight bout sees Matt Frevola (9-3-1 MMA, 3-3-1 UFC) lock horns with Ottman Azaitar (13-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC)