UFC 287: Joe Pyfer is the fighter to watch

Joe Pyfer
Joe Pyfer /

One fighter that could make a statement at UFC 287.

While talk of Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira's rivalry dominates headlines in the buildup to UFC 287, another middleweight is flying under the radar.

Joe Pyfer (10-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) first appeared on Dana White's Contender Series in 2020, where he was finished in the first round via slam. Pyfer fought once in 2022, earning another opportunity on DWCS with a second-round KO. Pyfer took advantage of his second chance with another round two KO, receiving a UFC contract with his victory.

Pyfer's momentum continued through his UFC debut in September 2022 against Alen Amedovski. Pyfer once again finished his opponent, this time via first-round KO. The victory brought his career finish rate to an impressive 90 percent.

Who is Joe Pyfer fighting at UFC 287?

Pyfer squares off with UFC veteran Gerald Meerschaert (35-15 MMA, 10-7 UFC) at UFC 287. Meerschaert boasts a wealth of experience that vastly outnumbers each of Pyfer's previous opponents. Notably, Meerschaert ranks fifth all-time in UFC submissions (9) and second amongst UFC middleweights in finishes (10).

While some might remember Meerschaert as the man on the wrong side of a devastating Khamzat Chimaev KO, it's safe to assume Pyfer will take him more seriously. Pyfer will fight in his 13th professional MMA bout, while Meerschaert will exceed the half-century mark on Saturday with his 51st.

Beyond the experience gap, the bout is intriguing stylistically. Pyfer is a boxer who has registered seven of his ten career wins via KO/TKO. The last time he won a bout by a different method was in February of 2019. Meerschaert, on the other hand, is a true submission artist. His jiu-jitsu style has helped him accrue 27 submissions across his professional career.

Pyfer and Meerschaert approach bouts in vastly different manners, but they fight with the same goal in mind: to get a finish. The fighters have combined for 62 fights in their careers, and just seven have gone to decision. It would be surprising to see these two go the distance on Saturday.

With a victory over Meerschaert, Pyfer would enter his name into the contender conversation of one of the UFC's thinner divisions at middleweight. If he continues his streak of KOs, Pyfer could be fighting for a spot in the rankings by the end of 2023.

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UFC 287: Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 2 takes place on Saturday, April 8 2023, live from Miami-Dade Arena in Miami. Follow along with FanSidedMMA for all your live results and highlights throughout fight week.