The UFC is back in New York City for the first time in more than a year for UFC 281, which takes place on Saturday, November 12 at Madison Square Garden. The five-fight main card is packed with current and former champions and the two headlining contests are both UFC title fights.
We’ll look at those fights, UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira and UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili and the other scraps on the UFC 281 pay-per-view card: Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler, Frankie Edgar vs. Chris Gutierrez and Dan Hooker vs. Claudio Puelles.
Before we dig into the UFC 281 betting breakdown, check out the best online UFC betting sites in 2022 and the latest UFC online betting odds.
|Israel Adesnya||-172||+147||Alex Pereira|
|Zhang Weili||-325||+275||Carla Esparza|
|Dustin Poirier||-178||+153||Michael Chandler|
|Chris Gutierrez||-210||+180||Frankie Edgar|
|Dan Hooker||-170||+145||Claudio Puelles|
Can Alex Pereira repeat his kickboxing success against UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya?
Yes, Alex Pereira has a knockout win over Israel Adesanya, but before you put too much stock into that win, consider the victory came more than five years ago, it was in a different sport, Adesanya was winning the fight and Adesanya is a much more dangerous mixed martial artist in 2022.
That 2017 kickboxing defeat was the last kickboxing contest of Adesanya’s career. Since then, he has gone 14-1 in MMA. He has five UFC middleweight title defenses and his only loss was a decision setback in a UFC light heavyweight title fight. Pereira is 6-1 in MMA and four of those bouts came while he was kickboxing. He is 3-0 in the UFC and is still a one-dimensional fighter. Adesanya is much more well-rounded and technical in his approach to MMA. The champ is also much better coached and trained than his opponent.
Pereira has a route to victory, a surprise knockout, but the much more likely outcome of this fight and the best bet for the UFC 281 main event is for Adesanya to win via decision.
OSB Prediction: Israel Adesanya (-172)
Can UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza's wrestling negate the striking of Zhang Weili?
Carla Esparza looks to make the first defense of her second UFC strawweight title reign against former strawweight titleholder Zhang Weili. This is a classic wrestler vs. striker battle and the odds favor the striker.
Esparza might be a better wrestler than Zhang, but her takedown accuracy of 34 percent and the fact she absorbs a fairly high 4.26 significant strikes per minute work against her in a big way. Esparza will get hit and hit hard — Zhang has 11 career knockouts — when she attempts to close the distance on her opponent. That does not bode well for the current champ.
The best pick in the co-main event of the UFC 281 fight card is for Zhang to win via knockout before the middle of the third round.
OSB Prediction: Zhang Weili (-325)
Will Dustin Poirier's boxing skills cancel the powerful striking of Michael Chandler?
Before the two title fights, former interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier faces ex-Bellator lightweight kingpin Michael Chandler. Poirier is the No. 2 ranked fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings. Chandler checks in at No. 5.
The thing to watch in this fight is the precision and accuracy of Poirier vs. the power of Chandler. Chandler is one of the most powerful strikers at 155 pounds, but his willingness to throw with so much conviction puts him in danger of being countered and when he gets walloped in return, his reaction and recovery are not the best.
I think Poirier’s counters, confidence and high-level boxing skills make him the best bet to win this UFC 281 matchup. Yes, Chandler is a live underdog and could score a KO win, but I think Poirier will be the one walking away with the knockout win.
OSB Prediction: Dustin Poirier (-178)
Can Frankie Edgar retire with a win over Chris Gutierrez?
Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar announced he will retire after he faces Chris Gutierrez at UFC 281. Edgar, who is on a 2-5 run since 2018, has knockout losses in his past two fights and four of his five most recent setbacks have come via KO. That does not bode well for the 41-year-old, who is the No. 12 ranked fighter in the official UFC bantamweight rankings.
The 31-year-old Gutierrez lost his UFC debut in 2018, but since then, he has gone 6-0-1 and has won his past three outings. Gutierrez is a more active and accurate striker than Edgar, landing 58 percent of his significant strikes and connecting at a clip of 4.69 strikes per minute.
Edgar is a legend in the sport, but his time has passed and I don’t think he will walk out of MSG with a win. So the best pick for the Edgar vs. Gutierrez fight is a Gutierrez knockout in the second half of the contest.
OSB Prediction: Chris Gutierrez (-210)
Can Dan Hooker get back on track in his return to lightweight against Claudio Puelles?
Dan Hooker has come upon tough times. The 32-year-old teammate of middleweight champ Israel Adesanya is 1-4 in his past five outings. Following a desperation drop to 145 pounds in his last fight, a TKO loss to Arnold Allen, Hooker is back at lightweight for UFC 281 and he hopes to get back in the win column against the rising Claudio Puelles, who is on a five-fight winning streak.
Puelles is a dangerous submission artist, but the 26-year-old is at a height and reach disadvantage in this fight. Further, Hooker has 78 percent takedown defense. Therefore, if Hooker can fight without emotion and use his physical advantages and his advantage in striking, he should be able to do enough to win. However, that is a worry since Hooker might approach this fight with a chip on his shoulder.
One thing that works to Hooker’s advantage is his coaches from City Kickboxing, who should be able to keep him focused and dialed in. The best bet in the opening fight on the UFC 281 pay-per-view card is for Dan Hooker to win via decision.
OSB Prediction: Dan Hooker (-170)
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your UFC betting:
Play Now100% bonus up to $1000
Play Now100% up to $500
Play Now$500 Sign-up Bonus
Play Now100% up to $450
Play Now50% up to $1000
Play Now100% up to $1,000
Play Now$500 Sign Up Bonus
Play Now100% up to $300
Play Now100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino