Alex Pereira looks to maintain hex on Israel Adesanya at UFC 287

Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

A fast rematch of one of the most stunning results in recent UFC history headlines UFC 287 in Miami on Saturday night.

The main event of the pay-per-view card is a middleweight title fight between new champion Alex Pereira (7-1) of Brazil and former titleholder Israel Adesanya (23-2) of New Zealand.

The duo first met last November in the main event of UFC 281 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. There, Adesanya, who had made five successful defenses of his belt and had never lost an MMA fight at 185 pounds, seemed well on his way to a decision victory. In the fifth round, however, Pereira came on like gangbusters in a furious rally and earned the championship with a ferocious TKO.

The result only added fuel to the fire of the notion Pereira simply has Adesanya’s number. The duo squared off twice in kickboxing matchups, and Pereira won twice. One was via unanimous decision and the other, a knockout, marked the only stoppage loss in Adesanya’s 80 career kickboxing bouts.

Adesanya, as one might imagine, rejects the notion that he can’t beat Pereira.

“I was dominating,” he told ESPN regarding the UFC 281 match. “I was winning the fight in every exchange, the standup and the ground. He recovers very well, that’s something I definitely didn’t expect was his recovery. I put the beating on him.”

The evening’s co-feature bout is a matchup of top welterweight contenders. Miami’s Jorge Masvidal will no doubt have the crowd on his side when he takes on Brazil’s Gilbert Burns. The veteran Masvidal (35-16) rocketed to stardom in 2019 with three straight KO/TKO wins. But he hasn’t won since, going 0-3 in this decade.

Burns (21-5), meanwhile, is a former title challenger respected as one of the toughest outs in the division. He has won two of his past three fights, and his only loss in that span was a unanimous decision to rising star Khamzat Chimaev in what was widely regarded as one of 2022’s best fights.

–Field Level Media

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