MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 287, a five-round UFC middleweight title bout between champion Alex Pereira and former champ Israel Adesanya. The event takes place on Saturday, April 8 at Kaseya Arena in Miami, Florida.
Israel Adesanya (-135)
Adesanya (23-2) is the former UFC middleweight champion. The 33-year-old New Zealander is 12-2 overall in the UFC and he has wins over a who’s who of 185ers including Robert Whittaker twice, Jared Cannonier, Marvin Vettori twice, Paulo Costa, Kelvin Gastelum, Derek Brunson, and Anderson Silva. He is one of the best middleweights of all time as his striking is some of the absolute best in the weight class. He was winning most of his first MMA fight with Pereira before getting stopped. He will need to turn that around this time around in order to avoid losing two MMA fights to his rival, who also has two previous wins over Adesnaya in kickboxing. Does this guy just have Adesanya’s number, or is Adesanya still worthy of being a champion? We will find out more this Saturday.
Alex Pereira (+115)
Pereira (7-1) is the UFC middleweight champion. The 35-year-old Brazilian is a late bloomer in the sport of MMA but he has taken the sport by storm in the last few years. He joined the UFC in 2021 and since then he is a perfect 4-0 with three knockout wins. In his last two bouts, he beat Sean Strickland to get a title shot and then knocked out Adesanya in a comeback to win the belt. Pereira’s fight-changing power and refined kickboxing skills are some of the best in all of the UFC, and if he can keep shoring up his grappling skills, he’s remain one of the division’s most dangerous fighters. A win over Adesanya, and he will cement his spot as the sport’s top middleweight fighters.
Fight Breakdown: I think this MMA rematch between Pereira and Adesanya is going to be another very intriguing fight for the fans to watch unfold. In their first fight, Adesanya controlled most of the bout, but it didn’t end up mattering as he got knocked out in the fifth round. Adesanya is now 0-3 against Pereira in combat sports, so he’s going to need to fight smarter if he wants to win this fourth fight. Having said that, if anyone is going to make the proper adjustments, it’s someone like Adesanya, who is going to go down as one of the UFC’s all-time greatest middleweights. Adesanya should use his wrestling more this time around because he had some success with it in his first fight. It is too risky to stand and trade with Pereira, so I expect Adesanya to pursue that grappling-heavy game plan. I also think he will be competitive on the feet, although I do feel like Pereira will land the bigger blows. In picking Adesanya, I’m really banking on him using his ground game more. I think he will do just that, as he mixes in takedowns in order to defeat Pereira by decision to get his belt back.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya via decision