UFC 287 was set to be a big night in the world of mixed martial arts. One of the greatest rivalries in combat sports was set to take place for the fourth time, and the second time in MMA, with former middleweight champ Israel Adesanya taking on the current middleweight champ Alex Pereira. There was tons of action Saturday night, so let’s dive into my five takeaways from UFC 287.


The Greatest Middleweight Of All Time

Heading into UFC 287, the legacy of Israel Adesanya was on the line. He had run laps around the middleweight division and had no one left to beat. The division was getting boring. It was getting stagnant, as no one could beat him. That was until his former kickboxing rival showed up. That rival was none other than Alex Pereira, one of the greatest kickboxers to ever live, and the only two-division champion in the history of Glory Kickboxing. 

Their first kickboxing fight was extremely close. Many thought Adesanya should’ve won, but the decision went to Pereira. In the second fight, in Pereira’s home country of Brazil, Pereira was in trouble, Pereira went on to knockout Adesanya. In their third fight, their first in the UFC, Adesanya was ahead and just needed to get through the final round to win the fight, but Pereira caught him and once again knocked him out. Heading into the fourth fight between the two, Adesanya’s legacy was on the line. With a potential move up to light heavyweight in the near future for Pereira, Adesanya needed to beat him. And beat him he did.

Against Pereira, Adesanya has always had success with his looping overhand right, and he landed those again. Pereira had success with his leg kicks, trying to limit Adesanya’s movement. However, nearing the final minute of the second round, Adesanya found himself up against the cage. As Pereira opened himself up to throw a combination, Adesanya found the looping overhand right to wobble Pereira, then landed it again to drop him before finishing it off with a hammer fist. 

With the win, Adesanya has a great argument to be considered the greatest middleweight of all time. As of now, there really aren’t any fights left for him at 185 pounds. In his post fight presser, Adesanya teased a fight with Dricus Du Plessis if he can continue to win, which I talked about in my UFC 286 recap. For Pereira, it seems like he will be moving up weight classes and head to light heavyweight (205 pounds), which would make sense for him since, at 35 years old, he may not want to cut nearly as much of his walking around weight of nearly 230 pounds. Pereira would become an instant threat to the light heavyweight throne, and although Adesanya likes to be active, he may need to wait a while for his next opponent.


Big Wins For Gilbert Burns and Rob Font

There was a lot of attention on the main event of UFC 287, but the two fights before the main event were both big attractions in two divisions that are extremely interesting. In the co-main event, Gilbert Burns beat Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision. In the previous fight, Rob Font scored a knockout win over Adrian Yanez. Both fights could play a role in the overall title picture in each of their respective divisions.

Beating Jorge Masvidal puts Gilbert Burns right behind Colby Covington in the line to be Leon Edwards’ first title defense from someone not named Kamaru Usman. Covington would seemingly be set to face Edwards, but Edwards isn’t necessarily keen to that idea, which could open the door for someone like Burns to snatch up a title opportunity. Burns is ranked fifth at welterweight, but Usman will not be fighting Edwards anytime soon, if at all, and Khamzat Chimaev will be moving up to middleweight. Thus, if it isn’t Colby Covington getting the first shot at the welterweight belt, it would be Burns or Belal Muhammad.

Rob Font’s win keeps him as a solidified top six contender in the bantamweight division. He may fight someone ahead of him in the rankings, such as former champ Petr Yan. Although Marlon Vera recently lost to Cory Sandhagen, Vera beat Font in April of 2022. Everyone further up in the top three spots are coming off of wins and will be looking forward. However, Font did ask to be the one to welcome former flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo to the bantamweight division, and that would be a very interesting matchup.


Farewell Jorge Masvidal

With UFC 287 taking place in Miami, Jorge Masvidal got a chance to fight in his hometown. Masvidal’s star power was a big reason the UFC decided to go to Miami, and it makes perfect sense that Masvidal’s last fight would take place in the same city as his career started, his own backyard of Miami, Florida. After Masvidal’s loss to Gilbert Burns, Masvidal decided to announce his retirement in the octagon during his post fight interview. In that post fight interview, Masvidal said that he “just doesn’t feel the same when I get [in the octagon] anymore.” 

Masvidal has had a very successful career that was highlighted by a star making 2019, where he defeated Darren Till with a highlight knockout before defeating Ben Askren with the fastest knockout in UFC history with a flying knee just five seconds into the fight. Masvidal wrapped up the year by winning the BMF title against Nate Diaz (the BMF title was a made up title used just once, presented to the winner of the Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz fight at UFC 244, which was to determine who was the baddest mother f-er in the UFC). 

Masvidal started his career famously fighting in unsanctioned backyard fights in Miami. Masvidal had 52 professional fights in his career, going 35-17. He squared off with many great fighters, including Gilbert Melendez, Benson Henderson, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Darren Till, Ben Askren, Nate Diaz, Kamaru Usman, and Colby Covington. Masvidal has had a great career, but the time comes for everyone to step away.


Raul Rosas Jr. Gets A Wake Up Call

Raul Rosas Jr. is the youngest fighter by a lot in the UFC, and it showed in his fight against Christian Rodriguez. Rosas fought on Dana White’s Contender Series at 17 years old, and made his UFC debut at UFC 282 in December of 2022, just two months after his 18th birthday. Rojas started off well against Rodriguez in the first round, where he put pressure on Rodriguez and applied a rear naked choke. However, Rodriguez was able to fight out of the choke. When he did, Rosas was absolutely gassed. Rosas only got more fatigued in the second and third round, and Rodriguez took total control of the fight. At the end of the night, it ended up being an easy win for Rodriguez.

With Rosas being so young, he still has a ton of time to develop. However, he also does have a long way to go to become a top fighter in the UFC. Rosas has talked about wanting to rise quickly through the UFC, but it will serve Rosas best to slow the train down a little bit and make sure he develops. While he is super talented at 18 years old, he still needs time before he is ready to be a contender in the UFC. Sometimes it isn’t great to try and develop in the UFC, but Rosas is skilled and he still has a bright future. He just needs to slow down a little bit and get back into the lab and continue to get better.


Road To UFC 288

As UFC 287 is in the books, it is now time to take a look ahead at some of the action leading up to UFC 288, as well as what headlines to watch for the event. The UFC has three Fight Nights leading up to UFC 288. There will be a UFC card every single week until then.

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen

When you take a look at the situation Max Holloway is currently in, his fight against Arnold Allen is a massive one for him. If he wins, he could find himself in line for a future title shot if Yair Rodriguez beats Alexander Volkanovski in their title unification bout in July. If Volkanovski wins, Holloway isn’t likely getting a title shot anytime soon, as he has lost all three of his fights against Volkanovski, which leaves Holloway in a really weird spot. 

This is the biggest fight of Arnold Allen’s career so far. If he loses, he’s still a top five featherweight, but will have some work to enter the title picture. If he beats Holloway, he most likely takes Holloway’s spot as the second ranked featherweight right behind the champ Volkanovski and interim champ Rodriguez. That means Allen would be in line for a title shot to face the winner of Volkanovski and Rodriguez.

UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs Blades

The second Fight Night also gives a chance for a fighter to get to the front of their division, and Sergei Pavlovich could take that opportunity. Pavlovich’s only career loss is in his UFC debut, when for whatever reason unbeknownst to me, they fed him to Alistair Overeem. Since then, Pavlovich is on a five fight winning streak, with all five wins coming via first round knockouts. If Pavlovich can get past Blades, he should be next in line in the heavyweight title picture as the guy who faces the winner of the fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic.

The one thing that Curtis Blades has on his side is experience. Although Blades only has two more career fights than Pavlovich (20 fights to 18 fights), Blades has 16 UFC fights compared to Pavlovich’s six. Blades is one of the few heavyweights who is a very, very good wrestler, which has been a massive strength for him throughout his career. If Blades can beat Pavlovich, he could be in line for his first UFC title shot, and he could potentially pose a problem to either Jon Jones or Stipe Miocic.

UFC Fight Night: Tsarukyan vs Moicano

The implications of the last Fight Night before UFC 288 are not as big as those of the previous two, but if Arman Tsarukyan can beat Renato Moicano, he can start to push towards getting a fight with someone ranked in the top five of the lightweight division. If Moicano wins, he can also push for a fight higher up the division. Moicano is interesting because he used to be a top ten contender at featherweight for a long time, but decided to move up to lightweight after three losses in four fights. Moicano is 4-2 at lightweight, but the two losses are against Rafael Fiziev and Rafael Dos Anjos, who are ranked sixth and ninth respectively.

UFC 288

Finally we have UFC 288, where former Olympic gold medalist and UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo comes out of retirement to challenge Aljamain Sterling for the bantamweight title. The interesting thing about this fight is that Cejudo never lost either title in the UFC. He vacated the flyweight title once winning the bantamweight title, as he didn’t want to cut weight to get down to 125 pounds, and then he retired when he was still the bantamweight champ, leaving the 135 pound title up for grabs. 

Now Cejudo returns to face Aljamain Sterling, who has gone from controversial title win (beating Petr Yan via an illegal knee), to a potentially very solid title reign. Sterling beat Yan in his first title defense, then defeated former bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw in his second. I won’t get into the full dynamics of the bantamweight division, as you can check that out in my UFC 286 recap, but whoever wins this fight will have interesting matchups in the division, be it with Merab Dvalishvili (Sterling won’t fight him, as he is his training partner), Sean O’Malley, Cory Sandhagen, or anyone else in the division. 

Regardless, UFC 288 is looking like it will be very interesting. Not only will Cejudo meet Sterling, but former lightweight champ Charles Olivera will fight Beneil Dariush and former women’s strawweight champ Jessica Andrade will be fighting Yan Xiaonan in Andrade’s return to the strawweight division after a six-fight run at flyweight. 


That wraps up my recap of UFC 287, as well as my look into what is up next for the UFC up to and including UFC 288 on May 6. Adesanya beating Pereira will be a “where were you” moment, and one that will shine at the top of the accomplishments in Adesanya’s UFC career. If there are any other takeaways you might have regarding UFC 287, make sure to tweet to me @derrik_maguire and to @BleacherBrawl and let us know about your biggest takeaways from UFC 287.

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