From the moment I could retain memories, Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., has been one of the most important locations in my life. Whether it was going to WWF (now WWE) shows, Rangers hockey games or prize fights, it has been a building that has been closer to my heart than any arena or structure. Heck, “The Garden” means more to me than most family members ... and they were the ones who took me to the damn building for the first 18 years of my life. Now, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) comes to “The Big Apple” for its penultimate show of 2022 and, sadly, what will be my final watch party with MMAmania.com / Combat Culture.
In 2018, I was inside Madison Square Garden when Daniel Cormier — with a back that could give out like a poorly-built dam in a downpour — defeated Derrick Lewis. Less than eight months later, I was sitting on the Skybridge when Andy Ruiz Jr. shocked the world and knocked out Anthony Joshua to win boxing’s unified Heavyweight title.
Tonight (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) Israel Adesanya looks to successfully defend his Middleweight title for the sixth time against Alex Pereira, who in his eighth professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fight will battle for the 185-pound title inside the arena that was home to Ali vs. Frazier, Eddie Alvarez vs. Conor McGregor and, most important, Andrew Golota vs. Riddick Bowe I (a.k.a. the prequel to the StrikeForce Nashville brawl).
The Anime Champ, as he’s been described in some of our content here on Combat Culture, is one of the rare bright shining stars remaining in UFC’s universe as many of his contemporaries inside the Octagon and on the microphone have either walked away from the sport, is at war with Dana White, or no longer able to hang with the elite in UFC’s weight myriad weight classes.
While Pereira is a tremendous athlete, UFC’s 2022 has been beset by great cards with little star power or depth. Don’t get it twisted: the fights have been amazing, and the level of talent in UFC is strong, but the number of athletes who could grab the public consciousness by the throat and command its attention like Darth Vader is scarce.
Nevertheless, for the 43rd (and final) time on Combat Culture, we will crack the mics, sip beverages and yell at our televisions alongside all of you and say goodbye to a channel that has been our home for three years. If you’re scared that me, Brendan Sokler, Stephanie Sottile, Olive and, of course, Dan A. White are going away forever, or better yet, excited at that prospect … we’re not.
Starting with UFC 282, we’re picking up where we leave off here on Combat Culture and are striking it out on our own with our friends over at MatMen. So, whether you’ve watched along with us, started as a troll and then became a fan, or listened to us while on the road or out at the bar, all I can say is thank you and I hope you join us this evening for some violent fun.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 281: “Adesanya vs. Pereira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.