Israel Adesanya defends middleweight title vs. Alex Pereira headlines UFC 281

The UFC has its Madison Square Garden main event.

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

Pereira owns two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, including one via knockout. ESPN has Adesanya in third place on the MMA pound-for-pound list. At middleweight, Adesanya is No. 1 and Pereira is No. 7. Pereira, a former Glory Kickboxing champion in two divisions, defeated Adesanya once by decision in 2016 and again via knockout a year later.

Adesanya (23-1) is undefeated in his middleweight career. The Nigerian-born New Zealand native has won three in a row since falling in a light heavyweight title fight against 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) is coming off a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 last month, the same card in which Adesanya successfully defended his title against Jared Cannonier. The Brazilian slugger has finished five times in six professional MMA wins 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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