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Escape from New York! Israel Adesanya isn’t bringing Middleweight belt to UFC 281 title fight

UFC 277: Pena v Nunes 2 Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Israel Adesanya’s luggage has been a little light for his last few outings.

“The Last Stylebender” is currently in New York City, anticipating his big upcoming Middleweight title fight this weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) in UFC 281’s main event against Alex Pereira. A win for Adesanya would mark his sixth official title defense as the champion. While Adesanya has made the long trip from New Zealand, his title belt did not ... and the strap apparently hasn’t been flying with him for quite some time.

LIVE! Watch UFC 281 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to “The Fight Mecca,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2022, featuring two highly-anticipated championship showdowns. In UFC 281’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, will look to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5-seeded contender, Alex Pereira. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV co-main event, women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, intends to defend her newly-won title for the first time against former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Zhang Weili.

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“It’s at the gym or at [coach] Eugene [Bareman’s] house somewhere,” Adesanya told The MMA Hour. “I just need to get [the ruby updates] done. It’s got like seven names and seven cities on it.

“I don’t carry the belt around,” he continued. “It’s a real belt, it’s the same belt I got when I beat Kelvin [Gastelum]. It’s the same exact belt. [I didn’t bring it to America], nope. They give me like a temporary one [after I win] then I give it back. I take it to the after-party if I want. The last four fights probably, yeah [I’ve left it]. Carrying the belt around is just — it’s heavy, but also sometimes the attention it brings I don’t really [want]. Especially at airports.”

On paper, Adesanya’s match up with Pereira is perhaps far from his largest to date. Looking back at their kickboxing history, however, has made it personal for Adesanya who seeks his first victory over the Brazilian in what will be their third overall encounter (first in MMA). 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 at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPNews at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

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. For the complete UFC 281 fight card and PPV line up click here.

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