UFC 287: Alex Pereira popular underdog vs. Israel Adesanya

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.

Adesanya opened as the -150 favorite at BetMGM, although those odds had shifted to -135 by Friday with Pereira being backed by 67 percent of the bets and 54 percent of the money to win.

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.

Burns opened as the heavy -500 favorite, with the odds shifting slightly to -450 with Masvidal drawing 90 percent of the total money and 59 percent of the money.

There are three other fights on the main card:

Rob Font (+155) vs. Adrian Yanez (-190): The public has been split with Font drawing 61 percent of the bets while Yanez has been backed by 62 percent of the money at BetMGM. Yanez enters on a seven-fight win streak, but Font presents his biggest challenge yet. Font, 35, is returning from a year-long hiatus following losses to Jose Aldo and Marlon Vera.

Kevin Holland (-250) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (+200): Pinzinibbio’s underdogs odds have shortened from +240 has he has been supported by 73 percent of the bets while the money has been almost evenly split. Holland moved from middleweight to welterweight following losses to Stephen Thompson and Khamzat Chimaev. Ponzinibbio is a former top-15 welterweight who missed three years due to injury and the pandemic, but he has scored impressive wins over the likes of Gunnar Nelson and Alex Morono.

Raul Rosas Jr. (-250) vs. Christian Rodriguez (+200): Rodriguez has been backed by 57 percent of the money and 53 percent of the bets. Rosas is considered a rising star at only 18 years old. “El Nino Problema” submitted Jay Perrin in his UFC debut, but Rodriguez is coming off a submission of Joshua Weems in the opening round after moving from featherweight to bantamweight.

–Field Level Media

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