Update 12:27 p.m. The fighters are in the cage, and we’re about to be underway!
The World’s Most Famous Arena will host one of the best mixed martial arts cards of the year, as middleweight champion Israel Adesanya takes on No. 4 contender Alex Pereira in the main event of UFC 281 on Saturday night in Manhattan.
Adesanya (23-1) has never lost at middleweight in the octagon, and has defended his championship in the division. He’s defended the belt six-straight times, including three straight unanimous decisions in his last three outings against Marvin Vettori, Robert Whittaker, and Jared Cannonier.
Pereira (6-1) at 35-years-old has had a long kickboxing career, and has won the Performance of The Night in two of his three career bouts in a UFC octagon. The Brazilian knocked out Sean Strickland in July of this year in the first round to earn this opportunity, but is also here because his opponent has just about cleaned out the rest of the division.
Adesanya is a favorite to win this bout with -215 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, making Pereira a +185 underdog.
We’ll be providing live updates throughout the fight with round-by-round scoring until a winner is determined.
Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira round-by-round results
Round 1 Adesanya 10-9
We were about to give it to Pereira, but a huge right from Adesanya just three seconds before the bell really stunned Pereira. Otherwise not a lot of action, and in fact Pereira had the best of it with some kicks. But the biggest strike wins a slow round.
Round 2 10-9 Pereira
While Izzy won on total strikes landed, the ones with by far the most power came from Pereira. He’s able to come in behind his jab in combination, and even scored the first takedown for either man with just a few seconds left in the period.
Round 3 10-8 Adesanya
The champ’s first-ever takedown in the octagon was followed by a clinic on the mat. About four minutes of total control of his opponent, landing plenty of close-range shots in tight while wearing Pereira down. It was not close.
Round 4 10-9 Adesanya
Pereira started the round clearly gassed, but he was able to rest a bit while defending on his feet. The challenger made a nice charge late in the round, but he’s still well behind. He’ll need a stoppage in the fifth to win this thing.