UFC 281 took place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. Reigning middleweight champ Israel Adesanya faced old kickboxing foe Alex Pereira in the main event, while Carla Esparza put her strawweight title on the line in the co-main event against Weili Zhang.
Main Event: Middleweight Championship
It looked as though Adesanya was on his way to winning a decision as the bout went into the fifth and final round. Izzy hurt Pereira early in the fight and out-pointed him for three of the first four rounds. However, Pereira’s power proved to be too much and a flurry of punch combinations two minutes into the final stanza found Izzy out on his feet and the referee was forced to stop it.
Co-Main Event: Women’s Strawweight Championship
Esparza was a heavy underdog and Zhang showed why by submitting the two-time champ in the second round via rear-naked choke. Esparza held her own in the first round and had some good success on the ground. But Zhang clearly had the striking advantage and also proved once again she’s a real threat on the ground with what was her eighth career submission victory.
On the undercard Dustin Poirier submitted Michael Chandler via rear-naked choke in the third round of their lightweight matchup. Chris Gutierrez knocked out Frankie Edgar via knee strike in the first round of their bantamweight fight in what was the former lightweight champ’s final walk from the Octagon. Also, Dan Hooker stopped fellow lightweight Claudio Puelles via second round TKO (body kick) in the PPV opener.
Preliminary Card results:
- Renato Moicano def. Brad Riddell by submission (rear naked choke) at 3:20 of Round One
- Ryan Spann def. Dominick Reyes by KO (punch) at 1:20 of Round One
- Erin Blanchfield def. Molly McCann by submission (kimura) at 3:37 of Round One
- Andre Petroski def. Wellington Turman by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Matt Frevola def. Ottman Azaitar by KO (punches) at 2:30 of Round One
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Silvana Gomez by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Michael Trizano def. Seungwoo Choi by TKO (punches) at 4:51 of Round One
- Montel Jackson def. Julio Arce by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Carlos Ulberg def. Nicolae Negumereanu by KO (punches) at 3:44 of Round One