The Fight Analyst is looking to get back on track after a lackluster 1-2 night (60-31 overall). This is the night to do so at UFC 281.
The UFC delivered last weekend with an exciting night of fights, which saw Amanda Lemos knockout Marina Rodriguez putting herself into the title talks. We also saw a ton of finishes on a fight card that some deemed lackluster, but overall it was a great night of fights.
Up next is UFC 281 which is headlined by not one but two title fights. In the co-main event, we have the strawweight title on the line as champion Carla Esparza takes on title challenger Zhang Weili. In the main event, we have the highly anticipated fight for the middleweight championship as Israel Adesanya takes on dangerous striker Alex Pereira. With that said, let’s take a look at the Best Bets for UFC 281.
Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira
In one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the year, we have the middleweight champion Israel Adesanya looking to defend his title yet again against familiar foe Alex Pereira.
Adesanya has been absolutely unbeatable at 185lbs as he has beaten the who’s who in the division and is looking to take out his most dangerous opposition to date. The championship experience that he has inside the octagon will play a vital role in him possibly getting his hand raised for the first time against Pereira.
Pereira is arguably one of the most dangerous middleweights on the planet. His size, frame, and power for the division are unheard of as all it takes is one punch for him to end it all. He’s knocked out Adesanya in the past when they fought in kickboxing and he has a load of confidence coming into this trilogy fight between them.
Ever since they last fought, Adesanya went on to be a one-man wrecking crew in the UFC’s middleweight division meanwhile Pereira went on to do the same in Glory Kickboxing. Being hard it is to connect on Adesanya, I believe the big swing and misses will fatigue Pereira over time. He will be the most dangerous inside the first 10 minutes but after that is where Adesanya should be able to take over. Ultimately, Adesanya weathers the early storm but just outpaces and outstrikes Pereira in the later rounds for a unanimous decision victory.
|The Fight Analyst’s Pick
|Israel Adesanya to win -220
Dan Hooker vs. Claudio Puelles
In the lightweight division, we have a fight between the surging Claudio Puelles and a mainstay in the division Dan Hooker.
Hooker has had a rough go as of last with a 1-2 record in his last three and losing each of his last two fights. Granted, his losses have only come against elite competition in Islam Makhachev and Arnold Allen. Hooker still has the ability to be at the top of the lightweight division, with his technical striking and power on the feet and his plus grappling to mix it all up. He will need to be at the top of his game to beat a young up-and-comer looking to take his spot.
Puelles has been on an absolute tear winning 4 in a row with a 4-1 UFC record. He is one of the only fighters to have multiple kneebar finishes in UFC history. He has the submission grappling game that makes him extremely dangerous on the mat. He also has been improving his striking as well ever since the move to Kill Cliff FC, training with head coach Henri Hooft.
This is a great fight to open the main card and while I think Puelles is a legit prospect, I think is too big of a step up too soon. We are talking about going from beating the likes of Chris Gruetzmacher and Clay Guida to facing Hooker who’s only beat and lost to the elite of the elite at 155 lbs. I don’t believe the notion is that Hooker is “done” and he shows this weekend why he still has a lot left in the tank as he dominates Puelles for a unanimous decision victory.
|The Fight Analyst’s Pick
|Dan Hooker to win -157
Chris Gutierrez vs. Frankie Edgar
A legend will take his last fight at the meca, Madison Square Garden as “The Answer” Frankie Edgar will take on the red hot Chris Gutierrez.
Gutierrez is finally getting some of the recognition that he deserves as he takes on a future hall of famer in Frankie Edgar. This will be the big name that he needs to catapult him into the top 15 of the rankings. He is 6-0-1 in his last 7 fights, with his most recent win being a brutal spinning backfist knockout against Batgerel Danaa.
What can I say about the great Frankie Edgar? He is someone who I grew up watching and it is sad to see him leave the sport. Edgar is one of those fighters that will live and die on his shield much like he has in his last two fights. He had a good showing against Marlon Vera until that brutal front-kick knockout, which doesn’t bode well for him in this particular matchup.
This is an absolutely brutal matchup for Edgar’s farewell tour. Gutierrez is a killer on the feet and has the most brutal calf kicks in the entire UFC. He is one of the few fighters that have finished multiple opponents via leg kicks. I expect those leg kicks to play dividends early which will hinder the wrestling onslaught that Edgar will need to survive. Ultimately, Edgar fights his best fight until he gets finished via knockout inside two rounds by Gutierrez.