This past Saturday night in the headliner of UFC 287, we saw a rematch for the middleweight championship. Israel Adesanya (24-2) was looking to regain his middleweight championship as he took on his rival Alex Pereira (7-2).
These two had a long history that dated back to their kickboxing days. They fought twice in kickboxing with Pereira winning a decision and knocking Adesanya out cold in their second fight. The UFC gave Pereira the fast track to the middleweight title and they fought last November with Pereira once again coming out on top.
This fight started very similar to their first fight. An extremely high level technical striking battle with Adesanya mixing things up and Pereira targeting the legs of Adesanya in the first round. The first round could’ve really gone either way.
In the second round, Pereira really started to do damage an up the pressure. He was well on his way to winning the round and then had Adesanya in trouble against the fence. He went in with his hands down trying to finish Adesanya again and The Last Stylebender unleashed a couple of massive right hands that landed perfectly.
Pereira went crashing down and Adesanya landed a follow up hammer fist. Pereira was out cold and once again, Israel Adesanya was the UFC middleweight champion.
Who is next after UFC 287?
When the fight ended, I immediately thought that they were going to run things back again. Pereira was up 3-1 in the combat sports record and they were all squared up in MMA with both men getting knockout wins. However, Adesanya was adamant in the post-fight press conference that Pereira wouldn’t get the next shot.
He talked to the fact that Pereira didn’t really deserve a title shot in the first place and the only reason that Adesanya got an immediate rematch was his championship history in the division. To get another shot, Pereira would need more wins according to Adesanya. Adesanya and UFC President Dana White hinted that Pereira would move up to 205 after this fight anyway.
So, if it’s not Pereira, who will Adesanya fight? While not calling him out by name, Adesanya hinted that he would like to fight Dricus Du Plessis. There seems to be a beef between Du Plessis and Adesanya and Kamaru Usman. Seems to be some personal stuff tied back to their home continent of Africa.
That could be the next fight for Adesanya. Other than that, there’s nobody fresh for him outside of Khamzat Chimaev. The guys ranked behind Pereira at 185 have gone a combined 0-6 against Adesanya with Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker having fought Adesanya twice.
There’s just not much there. Personally, I wish the UFC would pursue a trilogy with Pereira because it’s the only compelling fight for Adesanya. I think they’ll want Chimaev to get a big win before he gets a title shot and I’m not sure they’ll throw Du Plessis right into a title fight. Unless they wanna do Adesanya – Whittaker 3, I’m just not sure what’s there.
Jan Blachowicz took to Twitter and indicated he’d drop to 185 to rematch with Adesanya for the middleweight title after Blachowicz defeated him at 205. I guess that could also be a possibility, but time will tell.