In the promotion’s second-last pay-per-view event of 2022, UFC 281 is set to deliver fireworks inside the Octagon when Israel Adesanya (23-1) and Alex Pereira (6-1) fight for the middleweight title.
The prelim action at Madison Square Garden begins Saturday at 6 p.m. ET, with the main card kicking off around 10 p.m.
The early UFC 281 odds have Adesanya as the -230 favorite to retain his 185-pound strap.
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UFC odds, our best MMA betting sites and our standard UFC betting news page for all your fighting needs. UFC 281 Odds & Betting Notes
There’s some freakish energy around this five-round scrap between Adesanya and Pereira. The Brazilian is, of course, the only mixed martial artist to knock out Adesanya, having done so during a 2017 Glory of Heroes kickboxing event.
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Because “Poatan” owns two kickboxing victories over “The Last Stylebender” (one KO, one decision), Adesanya faces his tightest odds (-230) since he fought Paulo Costa at UFC 253.
This will be Pereira’s first time fighting in the UFC as an underdog. He’s been favored in all three of his previous fights, including as -130 chalk before his stunning first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276.
UFC 281 Odds: Adesanya vs Pereira
Bodog has Adesanya favored at -230 in the main event, while Pereira is the +170 underdog.
The co-main event between Carla Esparza (+290) and Weili Zhang (-425) features the longest odds on the card.
The tightest odds can be found on the prelims in a women's strawweight fight between Karolina Kowalkiewicz (-112) and Silvana Gomez Juarez (-105).
UFC 281 Betting Odds & Fight Card UFC 281 Fight Card Main Card Middleweight Title Fight – Israel Adesanya (-230) vs Alex Pereira (+170) Women’ s Strawweight Title Fight – Carla Esparza (+290) vs Weili Zhang (-425) Lightweight – Dustin Poirier (-230) vs Michael Chandler (+185) Bantamweight – Chris Gutierrez (-260) vs Frankie Edgar (+200) Lightweight – Dan Hooker (-152) vs Claudio Puelles (+135) Prelims Lightweight – Renato Moicano (-125) vs Brad Riddell (+105) Light Heavyweight – Dominick Reyes (-220) vs Ryan Spann (+178) Women’s Flyweight – Erin Blanchfield (-400) vs Molly McCann (+300) Middleweight – Andre Petrovski (-200) vs Wellington Turman (+160) Lightweight – Ottman Azaitar (-155) vs Matt Frevola (+127) Women’s Strawweight – Karolina Kowalkiewicz (-112) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (-105) Featherweight – Seung Woo Choi (-175) vs Mike Triziano (+145) Bantamweight – Montel Jackson (-200) vs Julio Arce (+170) Light Heavyweight – Carlos Ulberg (-130) vs Nicolae Negumereanu (+108)
Odds as of November 12 via Bodog
UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira Broadcast Information Date/Time: November 12, 6 p.m. ET Location: New York City, New York Arena: Madison Square Garden Where to Watch: ESPN+, PPV Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira Odds & Pick
Fighter Odds Israel Adesanya -230 Alex Pereira +170
Since the bout was announced this summer, the line has swung in Adesanya’s favor, moving him from a -170 opening favorite to a steeper -230 chalk.
odds calculator tells us Adesanya’s -230 status is equivalent to an implied win probability of 69.70 percent. As the +180 underdog, Pereira has an implied win probability of 35.71 percent. A successful $10 bet on the champion would pay out $14.35, while the same bet on the challenger pays out $28. Pereira: Need to Knows Pereira’s sharp left hook is one of the most dangerous weapons in mixed martial arts today. It was talked about plenty – we’ll get to his past KOs in a moment – but the UFC saw it for real in the 35-year-old’s bout vs Strickland. Pereira maintained a very upright stance, bouncing lightly on his feet (sort of like Adesanya) and using his long frame to pop off straight shots. In both Glory kickboxing fights between Adesanya and Pereira, Poatan employed a similar approach. Pereira pressured him and threw combos that finished with exotic high kicks, which for the most part Izzy could dodge and counter. But when the duo got in close, it was the short but fast left hand that hit the Nigerian on the chin and folded him to the canvas. Adesanya is one of the more skilled counterpunchers in the UFC, but there’s no doubt he’ll be hesitant to engage Pereira due to the challenger’s powerful left hook. This gives a big advantage to Pereira. The 35-year-old’s last three fights were against Strickland (win – knockout), Bruno Silva (win – unanimous decision) and Andreas Michailidis (win – knockout). Adesanya: Need to Knows Adesanya has never landed a takedown in the UFC, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try at least some variation of a level change. The champ spent plenty of time on the mat with Whittaker at UFC 276 but never looked overmatched. He was always able to maintain a safe defensive position or get to his feet when needed. Also, Pereira’s only MMA loss has come by submission. He’s been humbled once before, so Izzy shouldn’t feel the need to out-strike Pereira. He needs to win at all costs, and while the entry might be challenging, wrestling could be a path to victory. The City Kickboxing product is one of the UFC’s most creative, technical strikers, but there are some concerns that he’s lost his sense of urgency over his last few fights. Adesanya has defended his belt relatively easily against a mediocre crop of middleweight challengers. It’s high time he gets a wake-up call (see Kamaru Usman at UFC 278). We think Poatan baits Izzy out of the lull, resulting in an electric kickboxing match in which Pereira finishes The Last Stylebender and becomes the new champ at 185 pounds. Adesanya’s last three fights have all been five-round unanimous-decision victories over Jared Cannonier, Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori. Pick: Pereira by KO/TKO (+225); uNDER 4.5 Rounds (EVEN)
Check out a deeper analysis of the Adesanya vs Pereira odds
here. Carla Esparza vs Weili Zhang Odds & Picks
Fighter Odds Carla Esparza +290 Weili Zhang -425
The UFC 281 odds feature a double championship headliner, as Carla Esparza (19-6) looks to defend her strawweight title against challenger Weili Zhang (22-3).
Esparza: Need to Knows “The Cookie Monster” is a grappler with a knack for dominating control time and smothering opponents for decision victories. Esparza’s 58 minutes and 51 seconds of control time is by far the highest mark among active strawweights. She’s also the division’s active takedowns leader (44), landing 20 more takedowns than her next closest opponent. All her talents are in the wrestling department, and if the California native has her way, she’ll suffocate Weili en route to her seventh consecutive win. If this fight is decided in a toe-to-toe striking match, Esparza will lose badly. The sportsbooks seem to think Weili will piece Esparza up on the feet, hence the plus money next to the American’s name. Esparza just doesn’t have the intangibles or the physical arsenal to stand and trade with a fighter like Weili, who has 10 career KO/TKO finishes. There’s a massive discrepancy in striking talent in this fight. But if the threat of Esparza’s wrestling psyches Weili out (the same way Rose Namajunas got flustered at UFC 274), then it’s possible Cookie Monster ekes out a points victory. Esparza’s last three fights have come against Namajunas (win – split decision), Xiaonan Yan (win – technical knockout) and Marina Rodriguez (win – split decision). Weili: Need to Knows There are few female fighters in UFC history who are as ferocious as Weili. “Magnum” is a machine at 115 pounds, known for her work ethic and striking prowess. At UFC 275, in Weili’s rematch vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the China native showed her willingness to get in tight, take damage and even work some trip takedowns. The 33-year-old is so damn powerful, even in ground-and-pound situations, that she always has the option to out-muscle her opponent. So, can Weili score a knockout? That’s the biggest question of this fight, and it will all come down to how well she defends Esparza’s imminent takedown attempts. Weili defends takedowns at just a 60 percent clip, so there’s a serious vulnerability there, especially as a counter to her intense pressure. At UFC 268, Namajunas used a well-timed takedown to secure nearly four minutes of control vs Weili in the fifth round. If Weili is to win by stoppage, it’s likely to happen UNDER 2.5 rounds. If the fight is still going into the third and fourth rounds, we’re far more likely to see a decision. Weili’s last fight was a first-round knockout victory over Jedrzejczyk. Her two bouts before that were both losses to Namajunas (first-round KO at UFC 261 and split decision at UFC 268). Pick: Weili by KO/TKO (-110); UNDER 4.5 Rounds (-120)
Check out a deeper analysis of the Esparza vs Weili odds
here. Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler Odds & Picks
Fighter Odds Dustin Poirier -230 Michael Chandler +185
Fight fans attending UFC 281 will be spoiled, as a guaranteed smash hit between lightweights Dustin Poirier (28-7) and Michael Chandler (23-7) takes place on the main card.
Chandler: Need to Knows Chandler entered the UFC with a reputation as a wrestler with heavy hands – he’s reinforced that notion in each of his fights. He put Dan Hooker out with an iron left hook, he took down Tony Ferguson with the front kick and he even rocked Justin Gaethje multiple times at UFC 268, the last time he fought at MSG. But if there’s a weakness to Chandler’s approach, it’s that he gets too wired early. In that fight vs Gaethje, he came out unloading cannon-like right hands and tried his best to match his opponent’s pace with low kicks. Chandler gave the fans one of the most entertaining fights of 2021, but by Round 2, some of the pop was gone from his punches and kicks, and his face was a bloody mess. When Chandler battled Charles Oliveira for the vacant 155-pound belt at UFC 262, Iron Mike had the Brazilian dead to rights at multiple points in Round 1. First, he had Oliveira locked in a guillotine, then he landed his patented left hook and dropped “Do Bronx” to the canvas. But Oliveira latched on to Chandler, pulling him close with suffocating jiu-jitsu. Oliveira would knock him out shortly into Round 2. Pacing will be key. If Chandler can temper his intensity, he’ll have a better chance. Chandler’s last three fights have come against Ferguson (win – knockout), Gaethje (loss – unanimous decision) and Oliveira (loss – technical knockout). Poirier: Need to Knows Like Chandler, The Diamond isn’t shy about slugging it out with the best of the best – and, in a dogfight, Poirier has the advantage. In his career, the 33-year-old has averaged 5.61 strikes per minute, while absorbing 4.28 per minute, which tells us he’s unafraid of taking damage. At UFC 257, it was an emphasis on the calf kicks that helped him decimate Conor McGregor. Watch for a high output of low kicks again at UFC 281. Gaethje compromised Chandler with calf kicks in their last brawl, forcing him to switch to southpaw, where his combos weren’t as effective. The minor details favor Poirier. The Diamond has more five-round experience, a stronger submission game (see his guillotine attempt vs Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242) and he’s a southpaw, meaning he can shell up against Chandler’s combos a little better. Poirier’s shared the Octagon with a long list of killers at 155 pounds. Chandler is a tantalizing physical threat, but we think Dustin has the will and the savviness to win out. Poirier’s last bout was a third-round submission loss to Oliveira. Before that, he defeated McGregor twice, first by second-round TKO and then by injury stoppage after Round 1. Pick: Poirier by decision (+300); OVER 1.5 rounds (-135)
Check out a deeper analysis of the Poirier vs Chandler odds
here. Frankie Edgar vs Chris Gutierrez Odds & Pick
Fighter Odds Frankie Edgar +200 Chris Gutierrez -260
An “old vs new” bout will take place in the bantamweight division when UFC legend Frankie Edgar (24-10-1) enters the Octagon for the last time vs Chris Gutierrez (18-3-2).
Gutierrez: Need to Knows After losing during the finale of the Ultimate Fighter Season 28, “El Guapo” went on a tear, winning six of his first seven UFC fights, including two by stoppage. The 31-year-old has excellent footwork. He stays shifty and his head movement often prevents opponents from really sticking him. In his last fight vs Batgerel Danaa at UFC Columbus, Gutierrez got off to a slow start, but his calf kicks added up, eventually tiring his opponent and opening up the surprise spinning backfist KO. Gutierrez is a smart fighter with solid cardio. Edgar, who’s lost five of his last seven fights but is still ranked 12th, will be Gutierrez’s toughest test. His body might be lagging, but “The Answer” will still have the fight instincts that have carried him for 15 years in the UFC. There are likely to be a few takedown attempts on Gutierrez in this bout, which will pose unique challenges given Edgar’s wrestling pedigree. El Guapo is solid at defending the takedown, but he may find himself in trouble if he’s on his back for too long. Gutierrez’s speed should expose some stoppage opportunities, but the longer these boys roll on the mat, the greater the advantage for Edgar. Gutierrez’s last three fights have come against Danaa (win – technical knockout), Felipe Colares (win – split decision) and Andre Ewell (win – unanimous decision). Edgar: Need to Knows Chin. It’s what everyone will be wondering when Edgar steps into the Octagon. He’s been on the receiving end of two of the nastiest KOs in UFC history in back-to-back fights. Four of his last five losses have also come inside the distance. The odds are at +120 for UNDER 2.5 rounds in this bout, which seems like a solid value pick. At 41 years of age, Edgar is expected to retire following this fight vs Gutierrez. While Edgar will get a deserving amount of praise for his accomplishments, there isn’t exactly a strong precedent for fighters who tumble out of the UFC with multiple stoppage losses. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Anderson Silva and Paul Felder, for example, were all fighters who entered a fight with the public assuming they’d retire afterward. Cerrone and Silva lost by stoppage and Felder dropped a hard-fought split decision to Rafael dos Anjos. The farewell fights don’t typically go well for the retiring fighter. At +185, stay away from Edgar as an underdog bet. Edgar’s last three fights were against Marlon Vera (loss – knockout), Cory Sandhagen (loss – knockout) and Pedro Munhoz (win – split decision). Pick: Gutierrez by decision (+150); OVER 2.5 Rounds (-165) Dan Hooker vs Claudio Puelles Odds & Pick
Fighter Odds Dan Hooker -152 Claudio Puelles +135
The UFC 281 main card begins with a lightweight fight between Dan Hooker (21-12) and Claudio Puelles (12-2).
Puelles: Need to Knows The “Prince of Peru” is a slick grappler with three UFC submission victories (all by kneebar) to his name. His last victory vs Clay Guida at UFC Vegas 52 showed the world how cerebral his sub game is. Puelles was smart enough to set up a knee shield from bottom position, force Guida to roll and then lock up the tight, painful kneebar for the victory. The 26-year-old will have an enormous advantage over Hooker on the ground. Surprisingly, Puelles is the underdog in this bout. Hooker is by no means an elite fighter, but he will still represent the Peruvian’s toughest test to date. That said, Hooker is coming off two straight devastating first-round stoppage losses, including a kimura loss to current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. Islam, a vicious top-mount wrestler, attacked the kimura as soon as he landed the takedown. Puelles isn’t as ferocious on top, but there are clear submission vulnerabilities in Hooker’s profile. Puelles’ last three fights were against Guida (win – submission), Chris Gruetzemacher (win – submission) and Jordan Leavitt (win – unanimous decision). Hooker: Need to Knows Hooker’s jiu-jitsu won’t be on Puelles’ level, but he does have a few things working in his favor. The New Zealand native holds a 3.5-inch reach advantage, which should help him maintain some distance, and he has a pretty solid takedown defense (78 percent). If Hooker can use his counterpunching strengths, knees or length to stuff Puelles’ inevitable takedowns, then he holds all the cards. The key to this fight lies with how “The Hangman” chooses – or doesn’t choose – to engage with Puelles on the ground. Let’s say Hooker stuffs a takedown and sprawls Puelles. Will he stand up and forfeit top position? That might be the best bet since Puelles thrives on scrambles and reversals, where legs are exposed, and he can grab on for submissions. Hooker needs to proceed with caution in this fight to avoid ending up with his third straight stoppage loss. The 32-year-old’s last three fights were against Arnold Allen (loss – technical knockout), Makhachev (loss – submission) and Nasrat Haqparast (win – unanimous decision). Pick: Puelles by submission (+250); UNDER 2.5 Rounds (-150)