Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market later TONIGHT (Sat., April 8, 2023) with UFC 287, set to go down inside Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida. Headlining the ESPN+-streamed event will be a Middleweight championship rematch as division kingpin, Alex Pereira, defends his belt against the man he took it from five months ago, Israel Adesanya. In the co-main event, Jorge Masvidal will attempt to get back in the win column in his hometown when he battles Brazilian bomber, Gilbert Burns.
How To Watch/Stream UFC 287
Start Time (United States)
- ESPN+ PPV main card: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT start on ESPN+ (order it here).
- “Prelims” undercard (late): 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on ESPN in the United States.
- “Prelims” undercard (early): 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on Fight Pass in the United States.
Adesanya is coming into his second mixed martial arts (MMA) fight (fourth overall) against Pereira very confident. That’s not unusual for a fighter, but coming in with three losses to the same man should get you a little nervous, right? Not Izzy. The former 185-pound champion feels like a collared dog about to be unleashed and, if we are being honest, he was doing very well in his first UFC fight against “Poatan” five months ago before he was eventually left seeing stars in the fifth and final round, so you can't blame him. It was Adesanya’s first loss in the Middleweight division and getting back on track and winning the title may seem like the most important thing here, but getting one back on Pereira is what it’s all about. Should “The Last Stylebender” come up short to the Brazilian bomber one more time it will be a wrap on the rivalry, and getting back to a title shot as long as Pereira is champion will be a tough task. He can always move up to 205 pounds should that happen to continue his quest for gold, but we saw what happened when he attempted that the first time.
But, that’s neither here nor there because Adesanya is focused on winning now in a weight class he dominated for a few years. But, Pereira doesn’t want to be a one-and-done champ, either. He is out to start his own reign and build his legacy inside the Octagon, and another win over Adesanya will elevate his stock, allowing him to write his own ticket moving forward. As far as the gameplan for each man goes, there really is no secret. Both love to stand-and-bang and they each possess the knockout power to put anyone’s lights out. The power edge, obviously, goes to Pereira here so one has to wonder if “The Last Stylebender” will flip the script and turn it into a wrestling match. We really haven’t seen much from either man in that department on a consistent basis, but Adesanya did manage to take down his foe at UFC 281, so there is no telling what will happen if it goes to the ground for an extended period of time. But, I really don’t see that happening. They are natural strikers and that is where this will all go down ... on the feet. It will basically come down to who lands the heavier shots and makes the least mistakes. It sounds simple enough, right? But there really isn’t much to it when it comes to these two other than elite strikers who are out to provide fireworks and give fight fans one of the best title fights in recent memory. Adesanya almost had Pereira finished in their first UFC fight, so he is out to finish the job this time around. Pereira does get a bit weak because of his monstrous weight cut, so that can also play a factor in the rematch.
Rob Font is currently riding a two-fight losing streak and hasn’t won a fight in nearly two years. Adrian Yanez, on the other hand, is on a nine-fight win streak and is undefeated (5-0) inside the Octagon, so this fight was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. It should be exciting as all heck, don’t get me wrong (see why here), but it seems like Font has more to win here than Yanez does. If Yanez gets the win he will have beaten a man still hanging around the Top 10, but it will open the door for some to say he beat a broken man on the decline. For Font, meanwhile, he gets to resurrect his career if he defeats the up-and-coming stud. Doesn’t seem like a fair tradeoff to me.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
A Heavyweight fight between fan-favorite Chris Barnett and Chase Sherman was scheduled to go down at this event before “Huggy Bear” pulled out for undisclosed reasons. As a result, Karl Williams agreed to step in to fill the void. Williams is on a five-fight win streak and made a successful debut by defeating Lukasz Brzeski a little less than one month ago, so agreeing to step in to build on that momentum was a wise move. Sherman is just 1-5 in his last six fights so he is long overdue for a win.
Nikolas Motta was forced out of his scheduled fight against Ignacio Bahamondes after he suffered an undisclosed injury, which paved the way for Trey Ogden to step in as a replacement a few weeks ago at a Catchweight of 160 pounds. Li Jingliang was in line to face Michael Chiesa before a back injury put him out of commission, taking Chiesa out of the event, too.
Jaqueline Amorim will be the lone newcomer at this event and will look to make a splash against Sam Hughes. Amorim is undefeated (6-0) and comes in as the now-former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) Strawweight champion. What makes Amorim an exciting new addition is that she is all action, earning all of her wins via first round finish, five submissions and one knockout. Hughes is coming off a loss to Piera Rodriguez and is a paltry 2-4 in her last six UFC fights. A win over Amorim is a sure-fire way to get a new lease on her combat life.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The under card of this event is very stacked, to be honest. Headlining the “Prelims” is a Middleweight fight between former title contender, Kelvin Gastelum, and Chris Curtis. Gastelum has seen better days, having lost two straight and five of six overall. It’s a drastic fall from a man many felt had the potential to be champion, so where it’s gone wrong for him is unclear. He has a great opportunity to get back on track by taking out Curtis, who is coming off a knockout win over Joaquin Buckley. Again, this is one of those fights that when we look at “what have you done for me lately,” doesn’t make sense. Curtis is 9-1 in his last 10 fights and is ranked one spot ahead of Gastelum, who is on the worst slump of his career, so it makes you wonder why Curtis would take this high-risk fight.
Speaking of struggling stars, Michelle Waterson is in need of a win after going a dreadful 1-4 in her previous five outings, which includes her two most recent defeats at the hands of Amanda Lemos and Marina Rodriguez. It won’t get any easier for her as she goes up against Luana Pinheiro, who is on an absolute tear with her eight-fight win streak. Again, I sound like a broken record but I really wish UFC matchmakers would’ve thought a bit longer about booking this one. Nevertheless, Pinheiro has a great chance to crack the Top 15 with a win because while "Karate Hottie" hasn't been doing much winning as of late, she still carries a little name value.
Since getting rag-dolled by Khamzat Chimaev, Gerald Meerschaert has gone on a quiet tear, winning four of five with all of his wins coming via submission. Joe Pyfer won his first fight under the UFC banner by knocking out Alen Amedovski in the first round, bringing his win streak to three. This is a great battle between two 185 pounders looking to make a name for themselves.
In the Featherweight division, Shayilan Nuerdanbieke will battle Steve Garcia. Shayilan stumbled out of the gates by losing his UFC debut to Joshua Culibao, but has since bounced back nicely with three straight wins. Garcia is 2-2 so far in his UFC career and is looking to build off the momentum following his knockout win over once-promising prospect, Chase Hooper.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Cynthia Calvillo has made this list one too many times, and one more loss could be the last time she is ever on it. That’s because if she loses her fifth straight later tonight, the promotion could very well part ways with her. Calvillo was at one time considered a future title contender, but with no wins since mid-2020, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained fighter has looked like a shell of her former self. She is in for another tough battle against rising Mexican-sensation, Lupita Godinez. While “Loopy” is only 3-3 so far inside the Octagon, she has quickly become a fan-favorite and getting a win over Calvillo will only help her cause further and get her on her way to potentially becoming what many thought Calvillo would be.
Interest Level: 8.5/10
Masvidal has lost three straight, but that didn’t stop Joe Rogan from claiming “Gamebred” may actually be better than Georges St-Pierre ... seriously. But, the self-proclaimed “King of Miami” hasn’t done enough to be mentioned in the same breath as “GSP” because his last win came 3.5 years ago. He has stated that if he comes up short against Burns he could very well call it a career, which means more time for him to pursue his promoter gig. Burns is no pushover — just ask Khamzat Chimaev — and is out to prove that he will not be the forgotten man in the stacked Welterweight division. If “Durinho” can hand Masvidal his fourth straight loss he is right back in the thick of things. For Masvidal, this is literally do-or-die for him because four straight losses sends him tumbling down even further, which will affect his quest for big fights moving forward should he decide to stick around.
Santiago Ponzinibbio snapped his two-fight winless streak after he picked up a huge victory over Alex Morono at the end of 2022. The Argentinean is out to reclaim some of the shine he had from 2015-2018 when he won seven in a row. Standing in his way is Kevin Holland, the always-talkative and brash contender who, despite losing two straight, still gets a lot of love from the promotion. Holland is tough to figure out because he shows flashes of brilliance, but when he is matched up against top competition, he simply can’t get it done. Losses to Marvin Vettori, Derek Brunson, Khamzat Chimaev and Stephen Thompson proves just that. Ponzinibbio may not be as hot as he once was but it will still be a nice notch on “Trailblazer’s” belt if he can get the win.
Raul Rosas Jr. wasted little time in making his presence felt, twisting Jay Perrin’s face rather painfully in his debut back in Dec. 2022. While he may not be coming in to his first-ever UFC pay-per-view (PPV) event with they hype Bo Nickal had, most people are excited to see what the 18-year-old can do. He doesn’t lack the confidence, but he will have to be patient and try not to do too much against Christian Rodriguez (preview here), who is 1-1 so far in his young UFC career. Rosas has the hype, talent and potential, he just needs to put it all together carefully because a loss this early into his UFC career won’t be a good thing.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC 287 Fight Card:
UFC 287 PPV Main Event On ESPN+:
185 lbs.: UFC Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya
UFC 287 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Gilbert Burns vs. Jorge Masvidal
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Adrian Yanez
170 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
135 lbs.: Christian Rodriguez vs. Raul Rosas Jr.
UFC 287 Prelims Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Chris Curtis
115 lbs.: Luana Pinheiro vs. Michelle Waterson
265 lbs.: Chase Sherman vs. Karl Williams— CANCELED (details here)
185 lbs.: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Joe Pyfer
UFC 287 Early Prelims Card On ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Loopy Godinez
160 lbs.: Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Trey Ogden
145 lbs.: Steve Garcia vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke
115 lbs.: Jaqueline Amorim vs. Sam Hughes
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com 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.