Last Saturday, we witnessed one of the best UFC events of all time. New York's Madison Square Garden was ready for a card that both promised and delivered. Fortunately, we were there to tell the tale.
We witnessed 11 finishes in 14 fights; seven of them were in the first round. No main card bout went the distance, and two champions lost their belts.
That said, we take a look at what we learned about the explosive UFC 281 event.
Alex Pererira, the new king
There were only minutes left for Israel Adesanya to remain the reigning middleweight champion, until Alex Pereira decided to pull the trigger, and it was all over.
Adesanya was clearly winning the fight, and surviving the fifth round would have been enough to take the decision on the scorecards. Pereira knew he had to knock out the champion and went all-in until he succeeded in spectacular fashion to silence MSG.
"Izzy" has been champion since March 2022, so now we have new life in the division. Alex Pereira becomes the first Brazilian 185-pound king since Anderson Silva.
Is a rematch in the works? Adesanya deserves a new opportunity after being a great champion, even more so after dominating the fight.
Dustin Poirier is still going strong
Many speculated that Dustin Poirier was no longer serious about becoming a champion and was only interested in money fights like the two he had with Conor McGregor or Nate Diaz in the future.
Well, Poirier once again proved that he is alive and well after putting on a real war with a tough opponent like Michael Chandler. The fight earned the 'Fight of the Night' bonus. Poirier spectacularly submitted Michael Chandler in an epic battle that made all the spectators roar.
Erin Blanchfield is the flyweight future
No one talks about what Erin Blanchfield is doing in the octagon, and her performances should not go under the radar. Just 23 years old, Blanchfield is riding a seven-fight win streak and remains undefeated in the UFC after four fights.
Last Saturday, she faced a fan favorite and more experienced fighter, Molly McCann, whom she ragdolled for three minutes before defeating by submission (kimura) in the first round.
In a few years, as champion Valentina Shevchenko gets older, Erin Blanchfield will be the new 125-pound queen.
It will take a while for Zhang Weili to be dethroned
Zhang Weili completely dominated champion Carla Esparza at her own game. We know Esparza is by far one of the best wrestlers in the division, but it looks like we are watching a 2.0 version of Weili.
We all know Weili's striking and power; in fact, it was thought that her only chance to beat Esparza was with a vicious knockout, but at the end of the day, she got the win in the least expected way, by submitting her with a rear-naked choke inside the crucifix position.
Considering that Weili is an elite striker and that she now adds a new arsenal (wrestling) to her game, we can say that the Chinese warrior will remain champion for a long time.
It's never easy to say goodbye to our idols, and without a doubt, Frankie Edgar is one of the sport's most beloved legends. Unfortunately, they must know when to say "enough" before they get hurt.
Edgar was on a losing streak where he was badly hurt by hard knockouts, and the New Jersey native wanted to say goodbye in front of his home crowd at Madison Square Garden. What Edgar didn't count on was that his opponent, Chris Gutierrez, was a young and hungry rival.
Chris Gutierrez knocked out Frankie Edgar with a vicious knee in just two minutes of the first round, ending the legendary fighter's career. We will miss a great fighter like Frankie Edgar, and we wish him the best of success in whatever his plan is now.