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UFC 281 Odds, Picks & Predictions For Adesanya vs. Pereira

Adam Martin for Bookies.com

Adam Martin  | 11 mins

UFC 281 Odds, Picks & Predictions For Adesanya vs. Pereira

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This Saturday, UFC 281 takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. It’s a stacked card featuring a main event between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and his rival Alex Pereira. 

In total, there are 14 fights slated for this star-studded pay-per-view event. We’ll break down the main event along with two other fights in our UFC 281 best picks.

Favorite Underdog
Israel Adesanya | -170 Alex Pereira | +145

Odds via DraftKings sportsbook and current as of publication. Check out our DraftKings sportsbook review.

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UFC 281 Main Event Best Bet

Israel Adesanya (-170) vs. Alex Pereira (+145)

The UFC middleweight title is on the line in the main event of UFC 281 when champion Israel Adesanya faces off against challenger Alex Pereira. Adesanya is a -170 betting favorite to win, and I like him to pick up another successful title defense against his long-time kickboxing rival.

At age 33, Adesanya is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in MMA and the undisputed UFC middleweight champion. He’s a perfect 12-0 in the UFC while competing at 185 lbs, including wins in all seven title fights he’s had at middleweight. 

He’s fought the best opponents in the division, and he’s beaten every single one of them. He did lose once in the UFC, but it was at 205 lbs against Jan Blachowicz in a fight where he got outwrestled. 

Against Pereira, he won’t have to worry about the grappling threat as this figures to be a striking battle. In fact, there is a good argument to be made that Adesanya is actually the superior grappler in this fight.

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Pereira is a very intriguing title challenger for Adesanya because he holds two previous wins over him in kickboxing, including a brutal knockout win. If this was just a striking battle, then you might have to give Pereira the edge. But it’s an MMA fight, and at this point, Pereira only has seven professional MMA bouts, including just three UFC fights. 

Don’t get me wrong, he’s looked phenomenal in the Octagon, and I believe Pereira beats most middleweights on the UFC roster. But he’s fighting the best middleweight in the world. At age 35 and with limited MMA experience, I’m just not sure if he has the complete skill set needed in order to beat Adesanya in the UFC.

I can’t wait for this fight as we’ll see two of the best middleweights in the world go at it for all of the gold. That being said, it’s difficult to bet against Adesanya. He hasn’t lost in the UFC at 185 lbs, and despite Pereira having prior success over him in kickboxing, this is MMA. In a UFC fight, I have to lean towards Adesanya to win as a -170 betting favorite. For a prop, take a look at Adesanya winning the fight by decision.

UFC Vegas 281 Best Bet: Israel Adesanya wins at -170 with DraftKings Sportsbook

UFC Vegas 281 Best Prop Bet: Israel Adesanya wins by decision with DraftKings Sportsbook

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Other UFC 281 Best Bets

Weili Zhang (-340) vs. Carla Esparza (+280)

The UFC women’s strawweight title is on the line when champion Carla Esparza defends her title against former champ Weili Zhang. Although she is the challenger for this fight, Zhang is a sizable -340 favorite, and I think the odds are right.

Zhang is one of the best female athletes on the UFC roster. The 33-year-old China native is 6-2 overall in the UFC, with half of those wins coming by stoppage. In her last fight, she brutally knocked out Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a spinning back fist. 

That was a key win for Zhang because it helped her bounce back from two straight losses to Rose Namajunas. The win over Jedrzejczyk is the king of victory that should give her all the confidence in the world that she needs in order to win her belt back. It’s rare you see a title challenger as big of a betting favorite as Zhang is in this fight, but it just goes to show you what the betting public thinks about her.

UFC 281 Odds, Picks & Predictions For Adesanya vs. Pereira 1

Esparza, meanwhile, shouldn’t be completely counted out, because she just beat the aforementioned Namajunas in her last fight as a big underdog to recapture her belt. In fact, Esparza has won her last six fights in a row against solid competition, and at age 35, she doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all. 

That being said, MMA is all about stylistic matchups. Esparza is an elite wrestler, but her striking is not great. Zhang has very good takedown defense, so if Esparza can’t take her down to the ground, she’ll be in big trouble here.

Although the odds are steep for a title challenger, they are warranted, in my opinion. Give me Zhang to become the new UFC women’s strawweight champion at -340  favorite on betting apps, and for a prop, you can take a look at her winning by knockout.

UFC Vegas 281 Best Bet: Weili Zhang wins at -340 with DraftKings Sportsbook

UFC Vegas 281 Best Prop Bet:: Weili Zhang wins via TKO with DraftKings Sportsbook

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Dustin Poirier (-175) vs. Michael Chandler (+150)

One of the most highly-anticipated fights on the card features top-five lightweights Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. Despite being a +150 underdog on UFC betting sites, I’m going with Chandler to pull off the upset.

A longtime Bellator standout, Chandler joined the UFC last year and he’s gone 2-2 so far in the promotion. However, you have to keep in mind he’s been fighting elite opponents. He knocked out top-15 ranked fighters in Dan Hooker and Tony Ferguson, while losing to top-five talents in Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. 

Though he’s 36 years old, Chandler appears to be in his physical prime as an athlete right now. He might have come to the UFC at a later age, but he’s done very well so far, and I expect him to score a couple more highlight-reel finishes.

Poirier is one of the best lightweights in the sport and has been for many years. Now 33 years of age, he has been in the UFC since 2010 and he has fought and defeated many of the best fighters in the sport, such as Conor McGregor twice. 

There aren’t many negatives you can say about Poirier. That being said, he has been knocked out a couple of times in the UFC, so he’s not invincible. He’ll give Chandler a good fight, but I think he can get caught and finished.

This should be an incredible fight, but to me, this is more of a coin-flip type of fight, so I’ll gladly take Chandler to win as a +150 underdog. I also think if he does win, it will likely be by knockout, so consider Chandler via TKO prop if you are looking for an alternative way to bet on this fight.

UFC Vegas 281 Best Bet: Michael Chandler wins at +150 with DraftKings Sportsbook

UFC Vegas 281 Best Prop Bet: Michael Chandler wins via TKO with DraftKings Sportsbook

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About the Author

Adam Martin for Bookies.com
Adam Martin
A writer based out of Toronto, Adam Martin has covered professional sports, with an emphasis on sports gambling, for more than a decade, writing for such outlets as The Toronto Star and Sportsnet. He is an expert in UFC, while also covering NHL betting and the Stanley Cup.