Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC 287, we are going to see a rematch for the middleweight title. Former longtime middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-2) will finally try to defeat the only man who has ever defeated him at middleweight in champion Alex Pereira (7-1).
These two have a history that dates well before their fight for the UFC middleweight title last November. These two fought twice in kickboxing. In their first fight, the two fought to a close decision with Pereira getting the nod. In their second fight, Adesanya was actually able to rock Pereira.
However, Pereira got the last laugh by knocking Adesanya out cold. Pereira joined the UFC in November 2021 and was fast-tracked to the title because of his history against Adesanya. Almost exactly a year after he made his promotional debut, Pereira was ready to take on Adesanya inside the octagon.
Through four rounds, Adesanya was getting the better of the point fighting. However, whenever they would exchange, Pereira was landing massive shots. He had the definite power advantage, but it started feeling like Adesanya was going to win a decision.
Then, Pereira caught up. A perfectly timed short left hook hurt Adesanya and Pereira didn’t let him recover. Pereira won the middleweight title and improved to 3-0 against Adesanya in combat sports.
UFC 287 Prediction
This is such a tough fight for Israel Adesanya. Throughout his entire career in the UFC, he’s been known for his striking. He’s been able to fluster opponents who couldn’t hang with him on the feet. He’s had spectacular moments and then he’s had neutralizing moments where he just picked his opponents apart for a decision win.
The problem with Pereira is he can’t really do what he normally does. He won’t fluster Alex Pereira. He doesn’t have the power advantage in a fight with Pereira. He can’t use his range and length as an advantage against Alex Pereira. So, how does he win?
I could see Adesanya trying to use more grappling in this fight, but Pereira is ever-improving so that might get neutralized. If that’s the case, how does Stylebender win? Well, he wins by trying to stay long and point fighting his way to a decision.
Adesanya is a better point fighter than Pereira. If I’m Adesanya, I’m trying to stick and move throughout five rounds and walk away with a decision. I avoid the pocket at all cost. Adesanya can hurt Pereira, we’ve seen it, but I don’t think he should attempt to really sit down on his shots because that could lead to a fire fight.
For Pereira, it’s about closing the distance and using his power. Sometimes a guy just has your number and Pereira appears to have Adesanya’s. The former champion is still the betting favorite and I see an easy path to him winning a decision.
However, I can’t pick him. It’s one of those situations where I won’t pick him until I see him beat Pereira. I think this fight plays out similar to the first one but the finish comes earlier. I think Pereira finds his shot in the third round this time and retains his UFC title.
Prediction: Alex Pereira by TKO – Round 3