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In what has developed into one of the better rivalries in combat sports, Israel Adesanya picked up his first win in four tries against Alex Pereira — and regained the UFC middleweight title — in the main event of the UFC 287 pay-per-view card.
Pereira entered the ESPN+ streaming PPV headliner with two kickboxing wins over Adesanya and a knockout victory over him at UFC 281 in November. Perhaps more importantly, Pereira also possessed the UFC middleweight crown that he took from Adesanya with that November 2022 victory. He did not leave the octagon with a fourth win over Adesanya, nor did he depart with UFC gold.
It’s fair to say that Adesanya had his doubters headed into UFC 287. There was talk about how Pereira had his number. There was also chatter about how Adesanya should have taken another fight before jumping back into the cage against a man who had knocked him out a few months ago. Adesanya had to have heard those conversations, but he did not allow them to change his focus or diminish his determination to get back the title he held between October 2019 and November 2022.
In the co-main event, Gilbert Burns picked up a win while simultaneously sending Jorge Masvidal into retirement in front of a pro-Masvidal crown in his hometown of Miami.
Read on for the complete list of winners and losers from UFC 287, which took place at Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida. The UFC 287 main card streamed on ESPN+ PPV following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Israel Adesanya: UFC 287 was not a must-win for Israel Adesanya, but it also was. Had Adesanya lost to Alex Pereira in back-to-back UFC fights (and gone 0-4 in combat sports competition against him since 2017), his chances of getting another UFC middleweight title shot as long as Pereira was champion would have been improbable. With that, and his 0-3 record against Pereira weighing on his mind, Adesanya remained focused and resolute before and during the UFC 287 main event.
With his second-round knockout win and the UFC middleweight belt back around his waist, Adesanya silenced all those who doubted he had the skills or the mental fortitude to bounce back from a November knockout loss to Pereira and two previous kickboxing losses.
Israel Adesanya II: After taking the microphone from UFC commentator Joe Rogan — with Rogan’s permission — Israel Adesanya delivered one of the better post-fight speeches inside the UFC octagon in a while.
Gilbert Burns: Gilbert Burns looked pretty good in defeating Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision at the UFC 287 co-headliner. He was a bit cautious in the first round, but once he discovered that Masvidal’s takedown defense was not up to snuff, the tenor of the fight changed. With the threat of the takedown looming, Burns was able to open up his striking and put distance between himself and Masvidal on the scorecards.
On the downside, I don’t see Burns’ performance against Masvidal changing the mind of UFC president Dana White regarding giving Colby Covington the chance to be the next opponent against UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
Jorge Masvidal: Jorge Masvidal did not get the win ay UFC 287, but he did get to announce his retirement in front of a hometown crowd.
Rob Font: Rob Font took a chance by accepting a fight against Adrian Yanez. Font was on a two-fight losing skid and had not fought in nearly a year heading into UFC 28, yet he was still the No. 6 fighter in the official UFC bantamweight rankings. Yanez was ranked well below Font at No. 12 and 5-0 in the UFC with four knockout wins and five fight-night bonuses. Despite being the underdog, Font showed that he remains a roadblock to anyone who hopes to earn a spot near the top of the 135-pound rankings, becoming the first fighter to score a knockout win over Yanez.
Kevin Holland: Kevin Holland seemed more focused than usual during his UFC 287 fight opposite Santiago Ponzinibbio. He fought a smart, disciplined, and controlled bout, even when he was getting his legs torn up by Ponzinibbio. The third-round knockout win ended a two-fight losing skid for Holland.
What became apparent after the win was that Holland’s antics before Saturday’s fight card were all in the hope of setting up a matchup against Jorge Masvidal. (If Masvidal’s retirement does not stick)
Christian Rodriguez: Christian Rodriguez might only be 25, but he was the more experienced fighter against the heavily-hyped Raul Rosas Jr. heading into UFC 287, and that experience paid dividends. Outside of the first round, Rodriguez dominated a young, inexperienced, and perhaps over-confident fighter to pick up a big win.
The one mark against Rodriguez is that he missed weight by one pound for this fight.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Chris Curtis: The middleweight contest that ended the UFC 287 prelims was phenomenal. Kelvin Gastelum and Chris Curtis engaged in a striking battle that could have gone either way, but in the end, Gastelum, who had not fought since August 2021 and had not won since February of that year, got the nod.
Saturday night was one of his finest performances for Gastelum since he and a pre-UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya went to war in 2019. On the other side of the ledger, Curtis showed an ability to dig deep and put everything on the line in the hope of earning a decision.
If the 31-year-old Gastelum can fight as he did at UFC 287 in the future, he could once again become a problem in the UFC’s middleweight division. As for the 35-year-old Curtis, he will remain an issue for anyone he faces.
Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Luana Pinheiro: Michelle Waterson and Luana Pinheiro put on an entertaining and closely contested strawweight contest. The split decision went Pinheiro’s way and gave her a three-fight UFC winning streak. Meanwhile, with the loss, Waterson-Gomez dropped to 1-5 since October 2019. I’d be surprised if the UFC walked away from the popular Waterson-Gomez following UFC 287.
Joe Pyfer: Joe Pyfer put pressure on Gerald Meerschaert and kept him on his back foot from the opening of their middleweight contest. Pyfer also picked up on Meerschaert’s tendency to lean back to avoid Pyre’s strikes, which allowed him to land with power and finish the fight in the first round. With the first-round knockout win, Pyfer is 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppage wins and could find himself facing a top-20 185-pound opponent in his next outing.
Ignacio Bahamondes: Ignacio Bahamondes did an excellent job of using his length, mix of techniques and targets, pressure and activity to frustrate and outwork Trey Ogden throughout their 160-pound catchweight fight.
With his UFC 287 decision win, Bahamondes, at 25, is on a three-fight winning streak with the UFC and has become a low-key fighter to watch.
Steve Garcia: Steve Garcia had a rough few moments in the first round against Shayilan Nuerdanbieke, getting put on his behind compliments of a right hand, but he recovered, and when he came out to start the second round of the featherweight bout, he did not give his foe a chance.
Garcia pressured Nuerdanbieke to start the second five minutes of the contest and never allowed him to get set. Then, 30 seconds into the round, Garcia landed a body kick and followed that with a punch to the same location that left Nuerdanbieke writhing in pain on the mat. With the win, Garcia moved to 2-0 at featherweight in the UFC.
Sam Hughes: Sam Hughes did an excellent job of staying in the moment and fighting off the early submission attempts of Jaqueline Amorim. In doing so, Hughes kept herself in the fight against an inexperienced opponent making her UFC debut.
Hughes’ cardio and ability to stay active over the final 10 minutes of the fight made all the difference in this contest, which Hughes entered as a significant underdog.
UFC: The Miami piece at the start of the UFC 287 broadcast that featured Jorge Masvidal was well done. Focusing on Masvidal and his town without getting involved in anything outside of that was a smart decision. It was a good reminder of what made circa 2019 Masvidal one of the most popular fighters under the UFC banner.
Jon Anik: A+ suit from Jon Anik.
Alex Pereira: Alex Pereira looked like he had Israel Adesanya’s number in the early going of UFC 287. He landed more strikes than Adesanya, and Pereira had a much higher landing percentage. He also did a better job than Adesanya in controlling where the fight took place. With that, it’s hard to blame Pereira for his confidence. However, unlike at UFC 281, when Pereira backed Adesanya to the fence on Saturday, Adesanya’s defense was on point, while Pereira’s was not, and when Adesanya found an opening, he delivered, dropping Pereira to the mat and finishing the fight in stunning fashion in the second round.
Pereira and Adesanya are familiar foes, and they appear evenly matched. As their previous kickboxing and UFC fight showed, the outcome of their fights hinges on the smallest of margins.
Joe Rogan: Once Joe Rogan makes up his mind, there is no dissuading him from pushing his narrative. For example, Rogan claimed the third round of the Burns vs. Masvidal fight was close. It wasn’t.
Raul Rosas Jr.: Raul Rosas Jr. lost a lot of shine at UFC 287. He fought Christian Rodriguez like what he is, a young and inexperienced fighter who has had his tires pumped by everyone since he turned pro. Rodriguez deflated those tires by surviving the first round.
The loss should be an eye-opener for Rosas and his camp. By no means should anyone write off a fighter as young as the 18-year-old Rosas, but everyone should watch how he bounces back from his loss on Saturday and what changes he makes in the gym.
UFC: During the lead-up to the PPV portion of UFC 287, the UFC displayed a graphic for an “underdog parlay.” The problem was that the parlay had been busted when Chris Curtis lost the final fight of the UFC prelims. That was an unforced error for the promotion and its “partner” Draft Kings.
UFC: During the UFC 287 pay-per-view card opening, the video package described Jorge Masvidal as “one of the most prolific knockout artists in welterweight history.” I get that the UFC wants to sell fights, but c’mon now. With six UFC KO wins, Masvidal is not one of the top UFC KO artists.
Marc Goddard: Marc Goddard is a good referee, but he allowed Gerald Meerschaert to take several unnecessary strikes while on the ground during Meerschaert’s middleweight bout against Joe Pyfer.
When Meerschaert didn’t attempt to get to his feet, grab a leg or do anything other than cover up while Pyfer stood above him, not throwing strikes, it was clear that Meerschaert was looking for the ref to stop the bout. Goddard did not do that.
Cynthia Calvillo: Following a 1-4 run at 125 pounds, Cynthia Calvillo dropped back to strawweight for her UFC 287 bout against Lupita Godinez. Things did not go her way as she lost a split decision to Godinez that put her on a five-fight losing skid.
Sam Hughes: With the UFC having rules against gambling, Sam Hughes telling the world, “My boyfriend put a grand on me,” wasn’t the wisest decision. There should be fallout for those comments. If there isn’t, the UFC looks weak and ineffectual, and it will only create more suspicion while investigations into James Krause, Darrick Minner, and Jeff Molina continue.
Trey Ogden: Trey Ogden had difficulty closing distance against Ignacio Bahamondes, but when he did close that distance, he found the mark with his striking. The problem was that Ogden threw only one strike at a time when he got close enough to land, and that lack of activity was his downfall at UFC 287.
Jaqueline Amorim: Former LFA strawweight champion Jaqueline Amorim made her debut at UFC 287 on the strength of six first-round finishes. That record is impressive, but all those first-round finishes did not prepare her for a 15-minute UFC fight. In short, Amorim needs to work on her cardio in a big way if she hopes to stick with the UFC.
Daniel Cormier and Joe Rogan: If UFC commentators Daniel Cormier and Joe Rogan were given a specific number of “it’s over” quotes they could use during a broadcast, there’s a good chance they would not make it out of the early prelims.
Dustin Poirier: Dustin Poirier needs some work on the mic. He came across as nervous at times and used a lot of fillers, mostly “you know.” However, when discussing techniques, styles and fighters, Poirier was effective. I think the UFC should give him time to develop his skills and give him another opportunity to work an event. To have someone new to the job debut on a pay-per-view card was a mistake.
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