The UFC returns to Miami, Florida this weekend for UFC 287 when Alex Pereira makes the first defence of his middleweight championship against his long-time rival and all-time great Israel Adesanya.
The 185-pound championship will be on the line as the former kickboxing rivals go head to head for the second time in mixed martial arts, in one of the most stacked cards of the year, as Adesanya looks to get revenge over his foe to win back his belt.
Serving on the undercard is a huge co-main event between welterweight rivals Gilbert Burns and hometown hero Jorge Masvidal in a three-round banger, while the likes of Kevin Holland, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Rob Font, Adrian Yanez and Raul Rosas Jr are also set to fight.
We'll take a look at the main event and provide you with our best free UFC picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while watching an incredible fight card.
Learn more about how to bet on the UFC here.
UFC 287 information
- Saturday, April 8th 2023
- Miami-Dade Arena, Miami, Florida
- Main card starts at 10pm ET
- Middleweight (185-pounds) championship bout
- 5 x 5 minute rounds
Alex Pereira vs Israel Adesanya
Pereira is a relative newcomer to the MMA world with a 7-1 record professionally, and a 4-0 record in the UFC to earn the championship so early on in his career.
He defeated Andreas Michailidis via knockout at UFC 268 on his debut, before earning a brilliant decision win over Bruno Silva back in March of this year. He earned his title shot with a vicious first-round knockout win over Sean Strickland, before claiming a late comeback stoppage win in the fifth-round against Adesanya back at UFC 281.
He has won six of his seven professional bouts via knockout, with his only defeat coming in his MMA debut back in 2016 via submission.
Pereira is however a world champion kickboxer with GLORY, where he holds two victories over Adesanya, once via a decision (April 2016) and once via violent knockout (March 2017).
Adesanya on the other hand had been a dominant UFC champion, going undefeated in this weight class in the UFC including 6-0 in title fights with five successful defences against Robert Whittaker (twice), Yoel Romero, Marvin Vettori and Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 before his defeat to Pereira last time out.
His only other defeat in the UFC came as he tried to move up a weight class to claim the light heavyweight title, but was beaten by Jan Blachowicz in a unanimous decision at UFC 259.
"The Last Stylebender" has a professional record of 23-2 with 15 knockout wins and eight decisions, while the defeats to Blachowicz and Pereira are his only professional losses in MMA.
Route to Victory
This is likely to be a highly technical striking bout, with both fighters looking to make it a kickboxing fight to prove they're dominant in their own field over their opposing rival.
The first bout between the two was close but it was the Brazilian who used his snapping left-hook and kicking game to his advantage to get the nod on the judge's scorecards, and despite the knockout win in their second bout a year later, it was Adesanya who was winning the fight until that point.
The same can be said of their first MMA fight six months ago, with Adesanya ahead on all the scorecards before that crazy left-hook landed by Pereira in the final round to claim him a huge victory.
The Nigerian was quicker and used his leg kicks and combinations to much greater effect and was well on his way to getting the victory back, even wobbling Pereira badly in the final seconds of the opening round with the Brazilian being saved by the bell.
He will surely look to implement a similar game plan this time around, but use his ability to take the fight down and clinch against the cage to his advantage wherever he can to slow the fight down and take some time.
Adesanya will likely look to implement a similar game plan once more with the leg kicks proving effective and with costant movement and counter striking, but it would be a huge surprise if he didn't look to use some more grappling to try and tire Pereira out a little more.
For Pereira, it's all about doing what he's already done before. Come forward, crowd Adesanya and look to land his crushing power in the exchanges, knowing he is capable of putting Adesanya out if he lands flush. He knows he has the power advantage and he knows he can go deep into the 5th round if necessary, but he must be careful not to get caught by a big counter strike while he steps forward.
Check out our review for BetOnline sports betting here.
UFC Picks - Adesanya gets his revenge
This is an interesting betting line, because you'd expect the champion to be the favorite now after being Adesanya three times previously and twice by knockout.
But with that said, there is a reason he's favorite. He's the quicker striker with terrific movement and he is the more complete MMA fighter, and it is true to some extent that the fight didn't need to be stopped when it was because he was still moving around plenty to try and defend himself.
But Pereira's phenomenal power is a game changer as we have seen, and it's all on Adesanya to avoid those big strikes by not backing himself up against the cage and finding himself cornered in.
"The Last Stylebender" is so experienced in this type of fight, and the fact he was winning until getting caught last time out tells me he does have the recipe to get the victory. It will be tense without doubt, but back Izzy to be the man to get it done and set up a likely trilogy somewhere down the line in 2023.
UFC Picks - Israel Adesanya to win @ -137
UFC Picks - Israel Adesanya to win via decision @ +180