UFC 281 is in the books, and it brought a lot of finishes and a chaotic end to a long title reign. Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira’s MMA bout looked a lot like their last meeting in kickboxing. The longtime middleweight champion was ahead early, wobbling, hurting and tiring out Pereira repeatedly, only for “Poatan” to find a way to land his trademark power shot.
Likely down 3-1 on the scorecards, Pereira came up big in the last round and scored another comeback victory against Adesanya. He won his third bout against Adesanya, and completed a meteoric rise to win the title in just his fourth UFC fight.
In the co-main event, Weili Zhang put on a clinic both on the feet and on the ground, handily beating Carla Esparza to become a two-time UFC strawweight champion.
Below, we analyze the pros and cons of each of the key bouts, with a quick twitter thread that’s short and fitting for people’s social media era attention spans:
HOOKER BODY SHOT TKOs PUELLES— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) November 13, 2022
CONS: Crowd booed a fun fight.
PROS: Back and forth, striking vs leg locks. Hooker’s knee probably popped from that knee bar, and was limping. He then picked him apart at half power to avoid the ground, but it was enough. https://t.co/UgpkqoYF86
EDGAR BADLY KO’d (AGAIN) IN FINAL BOUT— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) November 13, 2022
PROS: None. This was depressing.
CONS: Edgar deserved better. He should’ve had a fun senior circuit bout (like Cruz?) instead of being sacrificed at the end of his career to build up a younger guy. https://t.co/U3ovyGt8gZ
POIRIER CHOKES OUT CHANDLER— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) November 13, 2022
CONS: I know it’s a fight, but those fish hooks and back of the head shots were blatant.
PROS: That was as wild and as fun as expected. They’re both tough, they both hit hard, but main difference was composure while under fire https://t.co/BBWtFPrBsu
ZHANG CHOKES OUT ESPARZA FROM CRUCIFIX— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) November 13, 2022
CONS: None! That was a clinic.
PROS: Weili outclassed Esparza. She picked her apart on the feet, which was expected, but even when Esparza went for takedowns, Zhang showed superiority on the ground as well. https://t.co/j9fCOPjQNS
PEREIRA COMEBACK TKOs ADESANYA— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) November 13, 2022
PROS: He did it again. What a comeback. Hurt repeatedly, down in cards, looked worn down, but found a way win
CONS: Izzy’s bad habits showed up? Lowering output & letting him off the hook kept that power in play until late https://t.co/yBHd9tSMqK
#UFC281 OVERALL— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) November 13, 2022
PROS: Great card top to bottom. Pereira’s big moment, Zhang's clinic, Poirier-Chandler violence.
CONS: Edgar loss (and matchmaking) was sad. Rogan pushing wrong narratives about Pereira’s quick rise/total fights kinda ruined the moment. https://t.co/c679lJAvLG