Predicting the UFC 287 main event.
The UFC's explosive start to 2023 continues with yet another colossal numbered card. This Saturday, April 8, MMA's leading promotion hosts UFC 287, live from the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida. The main event is a fight that has transcended through multiple combat sports, although the result has been the same so far.
Alex Pereira (7-1) will look to make his first title defence of the UFC's middleweight title when he faces off against bitter rival and former champion Israel Adesanya (23-2). Most fans are aware of the heated rivalry betweeen the two but just in case, let's go through a quick recap to get even more pumped up for this Saturday.
When the two were still kickboxing in Glory, Pereira defeated Adesanya twice, once by unanimous decision and knocking him out cold during their second encounter. Adesanya would eventually make the move to MMA and as they say, the rest is history, going on to claim the UFC's 185-pound title and defending it five times.
In comes Pereira, and whilst many fans believe he was fast-tracked towards a title opportunity given that the division was becoming stale with Adesanya as champion, he still proved to be the only man who could defeat Adesanya in MMA at 185 pounds when he knocked the former champion out back at UFC 281.
Now, Pereira looks to solidify his spot and legitimize his reign with another victory, a victory that would see him improve his record to 4-0 all-time against one of the best 185-pounders in MMA history. Adesanya on the other hand probably feels that a win is a must as the path to the title becomes increasingly blurry if he were to lose to Pereira again.
With all of this on the line, it's time to predict UFC 287's main event.
*All odds are from DraftKings.com
UFC 287: Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 2 prediction
It's clear that the public is still unsure about Pereira's overall MMA skills. Yes, he has perhaps the deadlist left hook on the planet, never mind combat sports, and has just proven to be the guy when it comes to beating Adesanya.
Still, Pereira heads into the bout as a slight underdog (+115) and that's most likely because we are yet to see him truly tested on the ground. He hasn't had to face any elite grapplers in his short MMA career and even against Adesanya during their first MMA encounter, he looked completely out of his comfort zone when he was put on his back.
Saying all that, and with Adesanya promising to use his wrestling in this bout, I am still going to back Pereira. Adesanya might use his grappling but realistically, his strengths still lie on his standup game. His wrestling has always been defensive and I find it hard to believe that he could become a high-level grappler in the space of six months. Pereira is also a huge 185-pounder and it wouldn't surprise me to see him simply get up from a takedown.
You also have to factor in the mental side of the fight. How much does it weigh on Adesanya that he is 0-3 to Pereira, that regardless of how many fights and titles he wins, this guy will always have his number. We can also look at the glaring statistic of former champions in immediate rematch fights, in which they are a measly 3-12 in UFC history (!!!).
All signs point to Pereira retaining and that's exactly what I am going to predict. Pereira puts a stamp on the rivalry with a dominant performance to remain the UFC's middleweight champion.
Prediction: Alex Pereira by KO/TKO (Round 4)