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UFC 281 at MSG: Adesanya vs Pereira Best Bets, Odds, and Predictions
The UFC always goes all-out when they come to the Big Apple, and boy, they’re not letting us down here at UFC 281. With the first fight (between Carlos Ulberg and Nicolae Negumereanu) set to start at 6:00 PM EST this Saturday night at MSG, the main event for UFC 281 is projected to start at midnight, and you’re definitely going to want to stay up for this one. The main event will see Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya attempt to defend his belt against Alex Pereira, who is the only one to knockout Adesanya in any combat sport (kickboxing). Not only did Pereira knock Adesanya out in one fight, but he beat him by decision in a second, so many believe Pereira has Adesanya’s number.
The odds somewhat reflect this, posting Adesanya as a -180 favorite (and Pereira as a +155 dog). Typically, Adesanya is at least a -250 favorite in his fights, so this one is projected to be a lot closer than any of his other challenges.
While you know I’ll have money on the main event this Saturday night, I’ll also have money sprinkled across the card–which is a must-watch for any UFC fan (casual or hardcore). Here you’ll get my four best bets for UFC 281, including who I think will win Saturday night’s main event. The odds I’m using are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook. If DraftKings isn’t available in your state, you can check out these other online casinos.
Best Bet #1: Renato Moicano over Brad Riddell (-125)
I’m starting my slip with the last fight on the preliminary card, which pits Renato Moicano against Brad Riddell in what should be a very interesting fight. Moicano, who has won three of his last five fights, is a submission specialist whos last four wins have come via sub. Riddell, on the other hand, has never won a fight via submission yet has 5 TKO/KO finishes on his record. Riddell is currently on a two-fight skid after losing fights to Rafael Fizaev and Jalin Turner, so there’s no doubting the fact that he desperately needs this win over Moicano.
Unfortunately for Riddell, I just don’t see it happening. In 13 professional MMA fights, Riddell has only lost three times–two of which have come via submission. While Riddell’s power certainty scares me (especially early in the fight) I think Moicano’s submission offense will be too much for the New Zealander to handle.
Best Bet #2: Chris Gutierrez over Frankie Edgar (-215) and UNDER 2.5 Rounds (+120)
You’re getting a twofer here–you can thank me later. If I could bet more in-depth, I would bet on this being the last time we ever see Frankie Edgar in an octagon–his time has come. Edgar has lost each of his last two, four of his last five, and five of his last seven. He is 41 years old and has been on the receiving end of some devastating knockouts. Unfortunately for the UFC legend, I expect another one to come this Saturday night from the hands (or feet) of Chris Gutierrez.
Gutierrez is on a six-fight win streak and has knocked out two opponents in that span. He is coming off of a crazy spinning back fist/elbows combo TKO earlier in March of this year, so I think he’ll be trying to recreate some magic.
Best Bet #3: Michael Chandler over Dustin Poirier (+180)
Dustin Poirier has been revered as one of the best lightweights in the UFC for some time now, and it’s a title he rightfully earned. However, Michael Chandler just…for a lack of better terms…has that dog in him. Remember his fight against Gaethje? Chandler took every ounce of what Gaethje had to offer and was still standing at the end of it. Then, he goes on to rearrange Tony Ferguson’s face.
Poirier hasn’t fought since his loss to Moicano, which took place in December 2021. We’ve never really seen Poirier take on a fighter like Chandler–or at least recently, we haven’t. Poirier faced off against Justin Gaethje (who shares a similar fight style to Chandler) back in 2018 and won via TKO in the fourth round. However, what Chandler has that Gaethje didn’t is the ability to be a dominating wrestler, which is something he really hasn’t showcased much here in the UFC.
I expect to see Chandler wrestle more in this fight against Poirier that now, since Islam beat Oliveira, has some serious championship fight implications.
Best Bet #4: Israel Adesanya over Alex Periera (-180)
I think Adesanya will prove one thing and one thing only to the world of combat sports on Saturday–kick boxing and MMA are very, very different. While I expect most of the fight to be on its feet, all Izzy has to do to get some serious point advantages on Saturday night is lock Periera up in one or two clinches and hold him there. He has to watch out for any elbows or knees on the way out, but if Izzy is able to successfully tie up Periera, then I don’t see how Periera wins.
Periera has proven in his (only) two UFC fights that he cannot do anything on the ground. So, if Izzy is truly the champion he says he is, we may see a transformed Izzy that we’ve never seen before this Saturday night.