When Kill Cliff took over Sanford MMA back in July, we knew there would be nights like this one happening on Saturday, November 12. And it’s about time!
Two Kill Cliff FC fighters are on the top of the card at UFC 281, taking place at historic Madison Square Garden in NYC. One of our fighters has a legendary opponent and one rather well-known Kill Cliff partner is defending his title for the sixth time.
Oh, and we have a rising featherweight in the prelims.
Not a bad night. You can see it on ESPN+ and ESPN+PPV.
ADESANYA VS. PEREIRA
We've had this circled for months!
Longtime Kill Cliff drinks ambassador Israel Adesanya (you haven’t had his Kill Cliff Ignite Tekilla Kiwi?) has preserved the middleweight title strap since June of last year, having successfully defended it three times since losing it in a decision against Jan Blanchowicz in March 2021.
Blanchowicz was a blip on the Last Stylebender’s record: Izzy has actually successfully defended the title five times total, with his last victory coming in February against Robert Whittaker in a squeaker of a unanimous decision. That brings our favorite Kiwi-Nigerian’s pro record to 23-1-0.
But Brazilian Alex Pereira knows Adesanya well. In fact, he’s defeated Izzy not once but twice in 2016 and 2017, when they were in the GLORY kickboxing league. And Pereira’s been trashtalking:
“If he really wanted this [fight], he would have done that as soon as I signed with the UFC,” he said in a podcast at Trocação Franca. “He’s being forced to fight, he’s the champion. It’s obvious that he cares about the belt.
“He knows I’m different, and I’m proving that. I’m showing that in my three UFC fights. I’m being honest here. He doesn’t want this fight. Nobody wants. His team doesn’t want it. People close to him don’t want it because they know the risk. Is he good? Is he the champion? He’s there because he did what he did. Everybody knows my potential and sees my evolution.” (Pereira is 6-1-0 in professional MMA.)
Izzy, never one to mince words, gave it right back to him in an interview with TMZ:
"I want to make this a horror movie. I want to be the first person he sees when he wakes up. I want to make sure I'm right in his line of sight so he's looking at me."
As for the two kickboxing losses to Pereira, kickboxing, Izzy said, “it's kinda stupid sometimes. No disrespect to kickboxing."
We’ll be watching Saturday when it’s MMA and not kinda stupid kicking.
CHANDLER VS. POIRIER
“This is a huge fight in my career,” Dustin Poirier told BJPENN. “First of all, I’ve never lost two fights in a row in my whole career since an amateur, I’ve never lost two fights in a row.”
It would seem Poirier’s storied 28-7-0 career is on the line, at least in his head, as he faces off against Kill Cliff FC’s Michael Chandler in the lightweight division. Chandler is 23-7-0.
“I want to prove to myself that I learn from mistakes, I get back to the grind, pick myself back up, and not only to myself, I want to prove to my family and for the fans, to my daughter that you can fall down and get back up and succeed,” he said. “So, this fight for me personally, it’s very important for me to get a victory over another former world champion and add his name to my résumé and legacy.”
For his part, Chandler hopes defeating Poirier will enhance his shot at Alexander Volkanovski or Islam Makhachev for the title.
“It’s my fifth fight in the UFC,” he told MMA Junkie. “Things have calmed down a little bit. I’m seeing things more clearly, as well. This is a phenomenal opportunity. I think this puts me in line for the title or another huge fight by knocking out Dustin.”
PUELLES VS. HOOKER
Opening the main card on Saturday is the tilt between Kill Cliff FC’s Claudio Puelles and New Zealand’s Dan Hooker in a second lightweight bout.
Hooker, 21-12-0, is coming off—*checks notes*—four losses in his last five fights.
Puelles, on the other hand, has won five in a row, using a crafty combination of bottom submissions and kneebars. El Niño would be wise to stay off the floor until it’s time to finish Hooker, who is fighting to stay in the rankings.
SEUNGWOO CHOI VS. MICHAEL TRIZANO
An early prelim match-up finds Kill Cliff FC’s Seungwoo Choi taking on Michael Trizano in a featherweight bout.
Choi, 10-5-0, racked up two W’s before earning two L’s in a row in his last two fights. Trizano, 10-3-0 and The Ultimate Fighter Season 27 winner, also is coming off two L’s, making this an important contest for both fighters as they struggle to move up the ladder.
Tune in early on ESPN+.