This past Saturday night in the headliner of UFC 287, the middleweight title was on the line. Alex Pereira (7-2) was looking to defend the middleweight title as he took on rival and former champion Israel Adesanya (24-2).
It was the fourth time that these two had competed in combat sports. Pereira had won all three of the previous matchups and many were wondering whether or not Adesanya could finally overcome his rival. Well, The Last Stylebender answered all the questions on Saturday night.
After a really good first round by both fighters, Pereira appeared to have the clear advantage in the second round. He thought he had Adesanya hurt and came in strong with big shots but he kept his hands low. Adesanya waited for his opportunity then let go a quick left straight followed by a huge overhand right landing right on the temple.
Pereira was rocked from the first shot and Adesanya landed another follow up to the same spot that sent the Brazilian down. Pereira was out cold but still ate a nasty hammerfist by the new and once again UFC middleweight champ, Israel Adesanya.
UFC can wait to make the trilogy even bigger
Over the past few days, I kept thinking that doing the immediate trilogy makes the most sense. I know UFC fans are tired of immediate rematches and trilogies which I completely understand. However, there’s just not a ton of compelling options at 185 for Adesanya considering his dominance over the entire division.
It looks like Dricus Du Plessis might be next and that fight has a ton of personal heat behind it given some comments about their native continent of Africa. That’s a fight that can be built, but I think the promotion needs to be careful in the way they promote the fight.
Pereira could move up to 205 which is something that Dana White thinks is a good idea. If Jiri Prochazka can’t fight anytime soon, I think the UFC would be wise to strike while the iron is hot and give Pereira an immediate shot at light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill. Hill has already expressed interest in that fight.
So, you can start to see how a trilogy between the two men could become even bigger with time. Let’s say that Adesanya is able to defend his title a couple more times at 185. Let’s also say that Pereira goes up to 205 and wins the belt from Hill before defeating Prochazka to retain the title.
Can you imagine how big the third fight between the two men could be then? Adesanya moving up on more time to try and achieve champ-champ status while trying to ultimately win the MMA trilogy with the only man who has truly bested him in his combat sports career.
There’s a lot of moving parts here and requires a lot of leg work from both men, but if the UFC is smart and the desired results unfold, a third fight in 2024 could be the biggest fight of all time.