Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira is the greatest MMA storyline and 4 other things we learned at UFC 287

UFC 287 in Miami was another eventful occasion with plenty of headlines. In the main event, Israel Adesanya got redemption as he became a two-time middleweight champion following a second-round knockout win over Alex Pereira. In the co-main event, meanwhile, Gilbert Burns inflicted another defeat on Jorge Masvidal as the latter would eventually bow out on his MMA career in front of his hometown fans. With plenty of other major events, here are five things we learned from UFC 287.

Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira is the greatest MMA storyline

The storyline continues. Adesanya finally got the sweet revenge he was looking for when he not only defeated Pereira, but did it in the coldest and most emphatic possible fashion ever. His post-fight actions and speech only further highlighted just how important the moment was for him personally as it was his last shot at the title — while Pereira was champion at least — as well as redemption. The scorecard now reads 3-1 in Pereira’s favor and 1-1 in MMA with the majority of combat sports fans eager to see a trilogy fight next.

This rivalry already features two of the highest level strikers of all time, two massive knockout defeats on both sides, it’s transcended multiple sports across years and still has another chapter (and potential twist) remaining. Adesanya argued it was the greatest storyline in MMA history going into the event and it’s hard to argue with him after UFC 287.

Jorge Masvidal unfortunately peaked too late

UFC 287 marked the end of Masvidal’s storied MMA career as “Gamebred” was essentially outclassed by Burns over three rounds in their welterweight fight. It made it four defeats in a row and given that he hinted at retirement with another loss, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Masvidal take his gloves off. While it was a consolation that he didn’t get knocked out in his final fight, Masvidal simply lacked the explosiveness, confidence and swagger that he usually fights with. Add in the natural physical decline at 38 and retirement was ultimately the right call for the Cuban-American.

It’s also unfortunate for Masvidal that it was only in 2019 where he peaked and rose to true superstardom as it was right around the age where fighters tend to start declining sooner or later. He was clearly ahead of his time in terms of skillset early on in his MMA career, but it was only in the last couple of years where he started putting everything together. Perhaps things would have been different had he taken his first title fight with Kamaru Usman with a full camp. But for now, Masvidal will still retire as an unsung hero in MMA and one of the best strikers to have graced the welterweight division, if not the sport.

Gilbert Burns has moved ahead of Belal Muhammad in title contention

While Masvidal took all the headlines, Burns enjoyed a solid performance that put him right back into title contention. The Brazilian stuck to his game plan, nullified Masvidal, landed a number of damaging shots and didn’t take any serious damage over the course of 15 minutes. It was basically the perfect fight for “Durinho” who has now won three of his last four fights.

He will naturally want a title shot next, but with UFC president Dana White seemingly intent on Colby Covington getting the next shot, Burns is in a strong position to be the next challenger. White has already given him the green light to be the backup for the Leon Edwards vs. Covington fight which means despite Belal Muhammad’s nine-fight unbeaten streak, Burns has now clearly leapfrogged him in the pecking order.

White on Gilbert Burns demanding he be the backup for the next welterweight title bout: “You’ve got a deal.”

— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) April 9, 2023

Santiago Ponzinibbio’s title hopes are gone

Santiago Ponzinibbio suffered a third-round knockout defeat to Kevin Holland after what was a back-and-forth fight. It marked his fourth defeat in his last six fights and the second time he’s been knocked out cold. Leading up to the fight, the Argentine spoke of returning to his previous position back in 2018 where he was a high-ranking contender with title aspirations. But after Saturday night, it looks like those aspirations are sadly gone forever, especially with him turning 37 later this year.

It’s a shame because Ponzinibbio lost over two years of his fighting career dealing with a major health scare before returning in 2021. Prior to that, he was a genuine killer virtually one fight away from getting a title shot while riding a seven-fight winning streak. Many also felt at the time, he was a bad matchup for Usman, who would later go on to reign as champion from 2019 until 2022. Unfortunately, his career will ultimately be a case of what if.

UFC made a blunder with Raul Rosas Jr.

There’s no secret behind it. The UFC promotion machine is clearly behind Raul Rosas Jr. and has been pushing him hard as such. However, UFC 287 proved to be a massive blunder matchmaking wise. Rosas had a strong start against Christian Rodriguez, but would ultimately run out of gas beyond the first round as he was dominated for the remainder of the fight on his way to a unanimous decision defeat. He suffered his first-ever career loss as a result.

Christian Rodriguez gets it done! @ceerod97 hands Raul Rosas Jr. his first career loss at #UFC287!

— UFC (@ufc) April 9, 2023

Rodriguez was a surprising choice of opponent for the 18-year-old’s second UFC fight. He’s 25, was 8-1 and coming off a win going into the Rosas fight. Despite that, oddsmakers still had Rosas as a solid pre-fight betting favorite, perhaps having a bit too much faith in the UFC’s confidence in the Mexican-born fighter. While everyone in the promotion will say it was a solid test for Rosas, the plan was almost certainly to have him remain undefeated at this point in his career.

The post Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira is the greatest MMA storyline and 4 other things we learned at UFC 287 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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