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UFC 287 predictions: Late ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Pereira vs. Adesanya 2

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN/ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., April 8, 2023) when UFC 287: “Pereira vs. Adesanya 2” storms Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida.’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 287 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Alex Pereira’s inaugural Middleweight title defense will see him look to finally close the book on his rivalry with Israel Adesanya when the pair headline UFC 287, which takes place inside Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Fla., this weekend (Sat., April 8, 2023). Also on tap for the pay-per-view (PPV) show are a pivotal Welterweight clash pitting Gilbert Burns against Jorge Masvidal and Kevin Holland’s attempt rebound against fellow slugger, Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Four more UFC 287 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), all of which will air on ESPN+/ESPN. Let’s take a peek ...

LIVE! Watch UFC 288 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

BLOCKBUSTER BANTAMWEIGHT BATTLE! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Newark, N.J., for the first time in more than three years on Sat., May 6, 2023, with a blockbuster Bantamweight collision inside Prudential Center that will see Aljamain Sterling attempt another successful title defense against returning two-division titleholder and former gold medal-winning Olympic wrestler, Henry Cejudo. In UFC 288’s last-minute pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, former Welterweight title challenger, Gilbert Burns, locks horns with No. 4-seeded contender, Belal Muhammad, in a five-round, 170-pound No. 1 contender eliminator match.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

185 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Chris Curtis

Moving to Middleweight paid immediate dividends for Kelvin Gastelum (17-8), who went 3-1 (1 NC) to earn himself an interim title shot. He now sits at 1-5 in his last six appearances, including a decision loss to Jared Cannonier his last time out.

He fights for the first time in nearly 20 months because of injuries.

The out-of-nowhere rise through the ranks for Chris Curtis (30-9) came to a halt at the hands of Jack Hermansson, who used lateral movement to snap “The Action Man’s” eight-fight win streak. He got back on track five months later with a nasty knockout of Joaquin Buckley that earned him “Performance of the Night.”

Fifteen of his 18 stoppage wins have come by knockout.

Next to Ian Heinisch — the one man Gastelum’s managed to beat in almost five years — Curtis is Gastelum’s most winnable matchup in awhile. “The Action Man” is a long-time Welterweight and hasn’t even attempted a takedown in the Octagon, taking Gastelum’s biggest bugbears out of the equation. That said, I still favor Curtis against most people willing to stay in the pocket with him.

Curtis has a significant reach advantage, a rock-solid chin, and generally throws a fair bit more volume than Gastelum, which is enough to get the nod. It’s a coin flip, but expect Curtis to narrowly outwork him for a unanimous decision.

Prediction: Curtis via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Michelle Waterson-Gomez vs. Luana Pinheiro

Michell Waterson-Gomez (18-10) put herself on the brink of contender status with three straight wins, all of them numerical upsets. The momentum wasn’t to last, as she went on to lose four of her next five.

She stands one inch taller than Luana Pinheiro (10-1) at 5’3.”

Pinheiro capped off a six-fight winning streak by knocking out Stephanie Frausto on the Contender Series. Her subsequent Octagon career has seen her beat Randa Markos via disqualification and claim her second-ever decision win at Sam Hughes’ expense six months later.

This marks her first appearance in over 16 months.

On paper, this is Pinheiro’s fight to lose. She’s younger, bigger, the heavier hitter, and the superior takedown artist. If she fights to anywhere near the best of her abilities, there’s not a whole lot Waterson-Gomez can do to her.

There’d usually be a “however” or “but” here, but I can’t really think of an objection. Pinheiro’s judo is too potent for Waterson-Gomez to initiate any ground exchanges, so the only way the latter wins is if she pulls the former into a pure striking match and edges it on ineffective volume. While I’ve seen better fighters fumble more winnable matches, Pinheiro’s power and takedowns are sufficiently superior to earn her the nod.

Prediction: Pinheiro via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Chase Sherman vs. Karl Williams

After nearly two years away from the promotion, Chase Sherman (16-11) scored his first UFC win since 2017, knocking out Ike Villanueva. He enters the cage this Saturday having lost five of six, though he did claim “Performance of the Night” for his finish of Jared Vanderaa.

All but one of his professional wins have come by knockout.

An upset decision over Jimmy Lawson on Contender Series extended Karl Williams’ (8-1) win streak to four and earned him a UFC contract. He ultimately debuted seven months later, leaning on his wrestling to claim a decisive victory over Lukasz Brzeski.

He steps in for Chris Barnett on a week’s notice for his second fight in less than one month.

Williams is, to put it mildly, a much less favorable matchup than the inconsistent and undersized Barnett. Sherman has never had an answer for persistent wrestlers, as seen in his quick submission losses to Jake Collier and Alexandr Romanov. Williams’ hands are also fast enough that I wouldn’t favor Sherman too heavily in a pure striking battle, either, much less with the threat of takedowns looming over his head.

All Williams has to do to win here is follow the same gameplan he utilized against Brzeski, which Sherman flat-out doesn’t have the means to stop. Expect another grind-heavy victory for the Contender Series product.

Prediction: Williams via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Joe Pyfer

Undaunted by a 2-5 skid, Gerald Meerschaert (35-15) rattled off three consecutive finishes to re-establish himself as a Middleweight of note. Though he fell to Krzysztof Jotko his next time out, a club-and-sub of Bruno Silva returned him to the win column and earned him his 33rd professional finish.

He’ll enjoy a 2.5-inch reach advantage despite being the shorter man.

Two years after losing to Dustin Stoltzfus via injury on Contender Series, Joe Pyfer (10-2) returned to the program to knockout Ozzy Diaz and claim a UFC contract. He made his promotional debut less than two months later, flattening Alen Amedovski for his first post-fight bonus.

He’s knocked out seven professional foes and submitted two others.

Strip away Pyfer’s knockout hype and Baldfather endorsement and you get a strong, heavy-handed wrestler who’s yet to face an opponent of Meerschaert’s caliber. He does, however, have the means to pass this test. Meerschaert is an opportunistic finisher, utilizing his great gas tank to survive until his opponents slow down and leave openings. Against someone with stout fundamentals who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes (like Jotko) his inability to force favorable engagements comes back to bite him.

Pyfer will, however, have to fight smart and avoid getting caught up in his own hype. So long as he stays composed, doesn’t get pulled into a pace he can’t sustain, and remembers to use his takedowns if Meerschaert starts building any momentum, he should be able to clip Meerschaert inside the first five minutes.

Prediction: Pyfer via first round technical knockout

UFC 287 features a whole bunch of good stuff that you just will not want to miss. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Current Prediction Record for 2023: 47-21-1

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 287 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 287: “Pereira vs. Adesanya 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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