UFC 281 is already upon us. Hard to believe for MMA fans who have been waiting for this event since it was announced. The card involves one of the UFC’s most popular champions right now in Israel Adesanya, while Carla Esparza looks to defend her newly acquired title. The big fight that has the public the most excited, however, is definitely Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler.

With Dustin Porier and Michael Chandler taking up all the attention heading into UFC 281, it is easy to forget about the two belts on the line Saturday night. Let’s look at the fighters who will be competing for gold on the star-studded card that is UFC 281.


UFC 281 Co-Main Event: Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili


It’s kind of crazy how little the public is talking about Zhang Weili. The former champion was the first and only Asian champion the UFC has ever had, and she looks to regain her title against Carla Esparza. She had a short reign as champion before losing back-to-back fights to Rose Namajunas.


After Zhang delivered a brutal spinning backfist that knocked out Joanna Jedrzejczyk, it was obvious that she deserved a shot for the title against Esparza.


Esparza is coming off of what some are calling “the worst UFC title fight ever” in her win against the aforementioned Rose Namajunas at UFC 274. The fight went all 25 minutes, with only 67 significant strikes landing the entire fight. Like it or not, that truly is Esparza’s style. She relies on her ground game and winning on the scorecards, as 58% of her wins have come via decision.


Though she has a few KOs and submission wins, if the fight is on the feet, Zhang will surely have the advantage.


UFC 281 Main Event: Israel Adesanya vs Alex Pereira


Alex Pereira has had a quick run in the UFC before his title shot at UFC 281. Saturday will be Pereira’s 4th fight in the UFC. It will also be his first time in the Main Event of a UFC card. You’d think that the lack of experience would cause MMA fans to be hesitant about the matchup.


However, Pereira isn’t your average fighter. Pereira is a former multiple-time Kickboxing champion with 33 wins, including a decision win and a KO over Israel Adesanya in Adesanya’s final kickboxing match before jumping to MMA. Pereira is coming off an easy Round 1 TKO against Sean Strickland, making the UFC vet look like he didn’t belong on the same stage as him.


The easy stoppage left no doubt that he is worthy of the most significant test the UFC can put in front of him.


Israel Adesanya is coming into UFC 281 off a convincing decision win over Jared Cannonier. Though the fight was one-sided, many fans called the fight boring and criticized Adesanya’s lack of output which was due to Cannonier not wanting to exchange. Adesanya should have no problem finding action against Pereira as everyone expects this fight to be absolute fireworks on the feet.