clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira results and post-fight analysis

Get the lowdown on the two title fights and other key bouts from UFC 281.

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Alex Pereira did it again, and we have a new champion.

Their UFC 281 headliner looked a lot like their second bout in kickboxing. Israel Adesanya hurt him bad early, and was picking him apart for the most part. The long time middleweight champion looked to be ahead three rounds to one, with Pereira needing a finish in the final round. And that’s just what he did, pulling off another spectacular comeback.

Pereira pressured and eventually found a home for his trademark power shots, badly hurting Adesanya and unleashing a flurry to stop him on the feet. Adesanya protested the stoppage, but it looked like a proper one to me.

Adesanya hurt and tired out Pereira many times throughout the contest, but he also repeatedly let him off the hook. Like he did for a lot of recent fights, Adesanya laid back and lowered his output, allowing Pereira to recover and keep that power in play even until late. Whether it’s a bad habit that showed again, Adesanya played with fire too much, and it cost him his championship belt.

With the comeback victory, Pereira went 3-0 against Adesanya across two sports, and is now the new middleweight champion.

In the other title fight on the card, Weili Zhang became a two-time UFC champion, and she made it look easy. The Chinese superstar showcased her well-rounded game and just won everywhere the fight went. She landed good shots on the feet, and whenever Carla Esparza went for takedowns, Zhang showed that she was a superior grappler as well. That choke from crucifix was slick, especially since it came against a reputable pure grappler.

  • Dustin Poirier vs Michael Chandler was as wild as expected, going back-and-forth with both men getting badly hurt and still pushing forward. The main difference it seems, was Poirier’s insane composure. They’re both tough with good chins, but Poirier never wavers or panics, which is why he never slows down even when in danger or under fire. He paces himself well and remains calm, while Chandler explodes on everything and got himself tired, and eventually submitted.
  • I know it’s a grueling fight, but Chandler’s fish hooks and shots at the back of the head were pretty blatant fouls that should’ve been penalized.
  • Why was Frankie Edgar even matched up against a young stud on a long winning streak? He’s 41 and on a string of bad losses, and that result was not just sad, it wasn’t at all surprising. Edgar could’ve been matched up for a fun fight against a fellow veteran (Dominick Cruz?), but it feels like UFC just has this need to use people on their way out to build someone up, instead of giving them a proper send off.
  • Dan Hooker’s knee might just have popped after those early leg lock attempts, but he refused to tap and was visually limping after. He survived and went on to pick apart Claudio Puelles. He wasn’t even throwing with full power, as he tried to remain cautious of those takedown attempts, but it was more than enough to win it. Hooker got him to bite on a feint, then finished the fight with a perfect front kick to the body that he wasn’t ready for.