UFC 281 delivered in spades tonight. This was definitely one of the best PPV offerings of 2022 in my opinion. I continue to marvel at these amazing athletes who put all on the line under the most intense scrutiny imaginable. This card was off the chain and if you are a sports fan that has yet to partake in a ufc fight card of this magnitude, you really do not understand what you are missing and you need to tune in because this is the best sport on the planet, period.
Carlos ULBERG got the evening started with a 1st round KO of Nicolae NEGUMEREANU. ULBERG only needed a couple of calf kicks to compromise NEGUMEREANU's ability to move and then he found the finishing blow. He continues to impress and I look forward to his next outing.
MONTEL JACKSON sealed a 30-27(×2), 29-28 unanimous decision victory over JULIO ARCE when he knocked him down in the 3rd round and landed some good ground and pound. It was a competitive fight but a clear win for JACKSON, who passed his toughest test to date with flying colors.
MIKE TRIZANO won by 1st round knockout over SEUNG WOO CHOI after a rare double knock down where both fighters connected simultaneously and sat each other down. TRIZANO cashes as a sizeable underdog and avoids his 3rd consecutive UFC loss. The TUF champion will undoubtedly retain his spot on the roster with this performance. Congratulations to everyone who took the plus money dog shot on him.
KAROLINA KOWALKIEWICZ won a 29-28 unanimous decision victory over SILVANA GOMEZ JUAREZ. KOWALKIEWICZ dominated the 1st round with ground control but GOMEZ JUAREZ was pulling away from her with volume in the 2nd and the 3rd until KOWALKIEWICZ knocked her down and sealed the victory. There was some fuckery with the scorecards before Bruce Buffer announced the decision which seemed a little suspect but there is no denying that the judges got it right. This was a close fight and both ladies performed admirably.
MATT FREVOLA gets a 1st round KO over OTTMAN AZAITAR and bounces him from the ranks of the undefeated. It was evident that AZAITAR's 2 year hiatus wreaked havoc on his sense of timing. Ring rust is a very real thing for a lot of fighters and the always entertaining “Steamrolla” FREVOLA capitalized on it. FREVOLA is most certainly going to be a problem for a lot of fighters in his division.
ANDRE PETROSKI wins a 29-28 unanimous decision victory over WELLINGTON TURMAN with takedowns and ground control. I look forward to his next outing as he continues to show growth in his overall game.
ERIN BLANCHFIELD absolutely schooled MOLLY MCCANN by putting her in an unforgiving crucifix position and landing multiple punches and elbows before she finished her off with a nasty Kimura late in the 1st round. Credit to MCMANN for staying in the fight for as long as she did but this was a one sided beatdown from the opening bell. BLANCHFIELD is a serious problem for the flyweight division and I expect that she will be fighting for a title at some point in the not too distant future. She is an elite talent and I can't wait to see what she does next.
Ryan SPANN sleeps DOMINICK REYES early in the 1st round with a jab and he made it look rather easy. To my eye it appears as though REYES' chin has been severely compromised by his last two knockout losses to BLACHOWICZ & PROCHAZKA. SPANN cashes as a sizable underdog in impressive fashion.
RENATO MOICANO gets a 1st round RNC over Brad RIDDELL after he pieced him up on the feet for most of the round. Riddell looked somewhat disinterested and out of step from the opening bell but MOICANO has definitely leveled up since his last outing and his post fight interview was by far the best of the night. I can't wait to see what he does next. He is a remarkable talent and I hope Dana gives him a bonus for what was a very entertaining and impressive performance.
DAN HOOKER gets a 2nd round TKO over CLAUDIO PUELLES with a teep kick to the body that dropped PUELLES and forced the ref to waive off the fight. PUELLES tried desperately to get to HOOKER's legs on multiple occasions but it was to no avail. HOOKER's defense was on point and it was obvious that PUELLES didn't stand a chance while this fight stayed on the feet. HOOKER gets back in the win column and reminds everyone why he has maintained his ranking over the years. Congratulations to him on masterful performance.
CHRIS GUTTIEREZ gets a 1st round flying knee knockout over the legend FRANKIE EDGAR and sends him off to retirement. EDGAR'S storied career will undoubtedly stand the test of time and he goes out on his shield like the legend that he is. Congratulations to him on an amazing career and my deepest heartfelt thank you to the OG legend FRANKIE EDGAR for some of the most memorable moments in UFC history.
DUSTIN POIRIER gets a 3rd round RNC over Michael CHANDLER in what was easily FOTN. This was a back and forth war that saw both men badly hurt on multiple occasions. Both men fought through unbelievable adversity and extended the contest into the 3rd round but it was ultimately POIRIER who proved to be more durable. CHANDLER & POIRIER are must see TV every time they fight and I look forward to their next outings. This was an outstanding fight that had me on the edge of my seat and I highly recommend it to anyone who was unable to catch it live.
ZHANG WEILI got the second round RNC over Carla ESPARZA and reclaimed the strawweight title for the second time. WEILI is an amazing athlete and I have a real sense that she has become an even better version of herself since her last outing when she KO'D JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK. ESPARZA had a few offensive moments but this was largely WEILI from start to finish and I look forward to seeing what is next for her in her second reign as the UFC strawweight queen.
ALEX PEREIRA dethroned IZZY ADESANYA with a late 5th round standing TKO and claimed the middleweight title in the process. IZZY was up 3-1 on the scorecards going into the final round but I got a very real sense that he was never safe at any moment in the fight, especially when PEREIRA was able to touch him in the pocket exchanges. PEREIRA proved too durable despite being rocked by IZZY early on and ultimately he proved too powerful for IZZY's chin. This was an amazing main event to top off an amazing card and if it were up to me I would give every single fighter a bonus for a job well done.
I'm already looking forward to next week's Vegas 65 card so be sure to check out my RAPID FIRE QUICK PICKS article for that which drops every Monday right here at WE WANT PICKS.