Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira Booked for UFC 281 in New York City

Israel Adesanya, UFC 276
Israel Adesanya, UFC 276 Ceremonial Weigh-Ins. Credit: Alex Behunin/CagesidePress

The highly anticipated showdown between old rivals Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira has been officially announced.

On Friday, UFC broadcast partner ESPN revealed that Adesanya (23-1) and Pereira (6-1) will face off this November at UFC 281. The event is set to unfold at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.

The match-up isn’t exactly a surprise: the winner of Pereira vs. Sean Strickland last month was widely expected to get the next crack at middleweight champion Adesanya. The fight will nevertheless be a highly anticipated one, with Pereira holding two wins, including a knockout, over “The Last Stylebender” in kickboxing.

Adesanya claimed the UFC’s undisputed middleweight crown by defeating Robert Whittaker in 2019, after claiming an interim belt opposite Kelvin Gastelum. Since unifying the titles, Adesanya has been perfect at middleweight, defending his title five times.

The only blemish on Israel Adesanya’s record came in a failed bid to capture a second title at light heavyweight, which resulted in a decision loss to then-champ Jan Blachowicz.

Pereira began his transition to MMA in 2015, but turned things up a notch in 2020, taking a fight in LFA, then jumping to the UFC the following year. He’s won all three of his fights inside the octagon, defeating Andreas Michailidis, Bruno Silva, and most recently Strickland.

There’s no question Pereira was given the short road to the title, a result of his history with Adesanya. The intrigue surrounding a rematch between the two, albeit in a different sport, should be a big selling point for the UFC.

Pereira is currently ranked #5 in the 185lb division.

UFC 281 will take place on November 12, 2022 at Madison Square Garden. No other fights have been reported for the event thus far.