Alex Pereira vs Israel Adesanya

A highly-anticipated rematch is set for UFC 287, as Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya face off for the second time as mixed martial artists in a UFC Middleweight Championship fight.

Pereira stunned fans at UFC 281, when he knocked out Adesanya in the fifth round with a vicious left hook, ending the reign of the former champion and handing him his first loss at middleweight in MMA. Adesanya now gets his chance to avenge his defeat and reclaim the title that he held for three years.

Watch Pereira vs. Adesanya and the entire UFC 287 main card live only on ESPN+ PPV. Order here.

Read on for our staff predictions, picks, and analysis before the UFC 287 rematch this weekend.

Betting Odds

Adesanya will enter UFC 287 as the betting favorite with odds of -135. Pereira represents decent value for those who think he can defeat Adesanya once more.

Staff Picks

Braeden Arbour

There is a lot that both of these men can take from the last as well as all of their previous encounters as they look to stand across from one another again. In their first UFC fight, Adesanya was clearly ahead on the scorecards leading into Pereira’s knockout victory so, he should have the confidence knowing he is the more polished fighter.

In his past performances, we have seen Adesanya opt to fight with his back to the cage, to give himself the circular movement, and because as a primary kickboxer, he utilizes the cage best when he is defending takedowns. This is not applicable to someone like Periera, who masterfully forces his opponents to the cage in order to cut off their exit with that left hook. Instead, Adesanya needs to find a way to garner enough respect that Pereira is unable to walk him down so easily. In their previous fight, Periera showed no effect from Adesanya’s feinting until he landed that first solid right hand, at which point Periera started to bite. It’s important for Adesanya to land hard and land early to set that precedent.

Adesanya was able to consistently land the right hand over the top throughout their fight, he threw a left jab but left the hand out there to frame and open the angle for the right. This works especially well because Pereira typically keeps a low guard and the frame stops him from turning through with the left hook too easily.

As well as staying off the cage, Adesnaya also needs to adapt further, as Periera presents problems that aren’t present in his past opponents. Pereira stands like a more typical kickboxer, and Adesanya low kicks largely had almost no effect on the easily-checking stance. Instead investing in the body paid off far more often. Pereira will take some confidence in his ability to take Adesanya down after doing so in round two of their last fight, but Adesnaya should take more confidence having controlled Pereira for almost an entire round. Pereira makes some basic mistakes in the grappling department, he looks for trips in inopportune situations, which Adesanya was able to capitalize on occasion. Adesanya does have better clinch grappling, but the urgency with which he actually attacks the takedowns was sometimes lacking and the two ultimately reset. Adesanya was consistently able to get to double under-hooks or a high under-hook and wrist control against the cage, when he does so if he is able to then chain together the takedown more quickly we may see him able to take control of each round much earlier and stay out of danger as he does so.

I believe that standing we will see a very similar fight to the last, Pereira working to cut off the octagon and land tight strikes in close whilst checking low kicks and landing his own. Adesanya will look to land from the outside, slip and weave to open up some stiff counters. In the first fight, the grappling scenarios will disrupt the striking battle, and I think the key here is who initiates first and more often. If Pereira is able to take Adesanya down earlier, that same power carries into his ground and pound and we may see something new, on the flip, Adesanya can wear down Pereira further lessening the threat of that power in the latter rounds. I do think that Adesanya has a fairly definitive advantage here or is at least starting many steps ahead in their camp preparation and will ultimately win.

Pick: Israel Adesanya to win

Special Offer: Click here to sign up to MyBookie and get our exclusive sign-up bonus worth up to $1,000.

Michael Pounders

The rematch, or more accurately the tetralogy, is coming Saturday night. Alex “Poatan” Pereira, current middleweight champion in the UFC, will take on Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya for the 4th time in their professional careers. Currently, Pereira is 3-0 against Izzy, with two wins in kickboxing and one last November for the middleweight strap in the UFC.

Pereira is, unsurprisingly given his kickboxing background, a highly skilled and dangerous kickboxer. His size is significant for the middleweight division; Pereira can go eye-to-eye with many light heavyweights and even some heavyweights. He uses his massive size to keep range and punish opponents with thudding power. Typically, Pereira fights from an orthodox stance with tall form and low hands. He is bouncy on the feet and explodes effortlessly in and out of range. Despite his size and power, Pereira is able to push a respectable pace, landing 5.2 significant strikes per minute. While he is primarily a counter striker, Pereira still lands volume with consistency. His typical strategy is to allow opponents to strike first, few are able to land on him cleanly, and then capitalize on even the smallest opening. In their last fight, Pereira attempted 5 fewer strikes than Adesanya but landed 5 more. The edge in strikes landed is minimal, likely insignificant, but it proved that Pereira could hang with one of the best strikers in the UFC. Beyond his explosive movement and under-appreciated volume, Pereira is most known for his power. He hits hard! The result is that simple but the execution is complex. Pereira is a master at timing the right shot, at the right time, and landing it in the right spot. Whether it is a knee up the middle, a heavy kick, or that famous hook, Pereira can land a knockout blow from seemingly any position. In their last fight, while many had Adesanya winning the previous rounds before the 5th round finish, Pereira was keeping the fight close by regularly landing the more impactful blows. Now that he is the champ and has proven to himself and many others that he can beat Adesanya in an octagon, look for him to be more aggressive in their tetralogy.

Adesanya is well-known as one of the most talented strikers on the UFC roster because of his ability to hit and not get hit in return. He has incredible striking speed, both with his hands and kicks, and his precision is well-addressed by many pundits and Adesanya himself. Just like his opponent, “The Last Style Bender” is a master at landing the right shot, at the right time, and landing it in the right spot. Even though he does not match up with Pereira physically and does not have as much jaw-dropping power, Adesanya is completely capable of turning the lights out on an opponent with a one hitter quitter. This is because he generates power from a wide base, times his shots when his opponents are most vulnerable, and lands on the button more often than not. His striking is truly special. Interestingly, in his last fight against Pereira, Adesanya looked like the fighter we’ve grown to expect each time he fights, until he didn’t. Adesanya was striking with speed and precision, landing what he wanted when he wanted, and rarely getting hit cleanly himself. Then, as the fight progressed, Pereira started to cut the cage off and make Adesanya fight off his back foot. Getting trapped against the cage ended up being the undoing for Izzy. In the 5th round, Pereira cut the cage, trapped Izzy, and teed off for an emphatic finish. Interestingly, or concerningly, Izzy was able to circle off the cage for the first 20 minutes of the fight. Then, inexplicably, when Pereira cut the cage in the 5th, Izzy shelled up, stopped moving, and eventually was knocked out. I’ve seen that highlight countless times since the fight and still can’t explain why Izzy didn’t move his feet. He wasn’t gassed out, Pereira didn’t cut the cage in a different way than in the first 20 minutes, and Izzy had plenty of room to move. The only explanation I can give is that Izzy was more hurt before the knockout then he seemed and was stunned at the worst possible time. He needs to stay mobile and evasive in this fight on Saturday night.

Sometimes a bet seems so clear that it brings up hesitation; that is the case in Pereira vs Adesanya. Pereira is 3-0 against Adesanya, was in a close fight despite landing what is being discussed as a highlight reel comeback knockout, and is still an underdog. I expect Pereira to be more aggressive in this fight now that he’s proven to himself he can finish Izzy in the cage. Further, given Pereira’s size and head coach- Glover Teixeira, a grappling mater, I don’t expect Adesanya to be able to land takedowns in this fight. That means we’ll get another high-level kickboxing match. A matchup that has proven Pereira to be successful in 3 times in a row. I’ll gladly take underdog money on the champ and wouldn’t be surprised by another finish.

Best Bet: Alex Pereira to win (+135)

Special Offer: Click here to sign up to MyBookie and get our exclusive sign-up bonus worth up to $1,000.

Joe Pounders

Israel Adesanya is one of the most intelligent fighters to have graced the octagon. His fight intelligence and mental fortitude are an all-time test as he is now 0-3 professionally against Alex Pereira. While having no wins against his rival could be demoralizing, it is far more likely it frustrates Adesanya given he has been quite close to securing victories on multiple occasions, with the lone MMA bout being one where Adesanya was winning the vast majority of the fight — he won’s rounds 1, 3, and 4. But, winning the vast majority of the fight is not the same as getting one’s hand raised at the end, and this puzzle of Pereira is one that the cerebral Last Stylebender has failed at solving.

Leading up to the UFC rematch, it is rumored that Adesanya will incorporate offensive wrestling into the fight game plan against Pereira. On the positive, Adesanya trains at a very solid gym and is part of an Australian/New Zealand team that proved to make Volkanovski a tough grappling test for Israel Makhachev, so, it seems to reason his team can make Adesanya into an effective offensive wrestler – he is already an underrated defensive wrestler. But, on the negative, is that Pereira is a very difficult non-grappler to take down, particularly when you parlay the fact he is the largest middleweight on the roster with the understanding he trains with an elite grappler, Glover Texiera, on a daily basis. So, it will be interesting to see come Saturday night if Adesanya is able to effectively wrestle Pereira. Regardless, he proved in his last fight he has the MMA skills to win rounds on the feet and if he can avoid the massive power for the entirety of the fight and not freeze against the cage, then he can take back his belt and finally beat his fight rival.

Losing rounds is not a concern of Alex Pereira, particularly when the fight is for a full 25 minutes. This is because he is likely the most powerful 185’er and perhaps most importantly, has power through a variety of unique attacks. This ability to pose a striking threat against what was considered to be the best striker in the UFC in Adesanya proves that Pereira is truly world-class on the feet. And, as stated prior, keeping the fight standing is an ability he possesses given his large frame, sizeable strength, and constant grappling improvement coming at the coaching of future UFC HOF’er, Glover Texiera.

Using power to win this fight is the likely game plan of Pereira, but it would not surprise me if he too looks to offensively wrestle his way to win rounds in this fight. Similarly to Adesanya, he does not need to offensively wrestle, but will be an additive tool for his opponent to contend with, and, if Adesanya concerns himself with defending a takedown, then he opens himself up to potentially getting caught on the feet, and knowing Pereira has world-class power, this may prove to be a fatal mistake in the favor of the now middleweight champion, Alex Pereira.

Many people believe Adesanya will alter his game plan, implement wrestling, and win via a grind ’em-out style fight. While I believe Adesanya has the technical skills to get Pereira to the mat, the strength difference between him and Pereira is sizeable enough to where Pereira should be able to get up quite easily. Even though the case, I do believe making Pereira grapple is the smart move given cardio is the differential Adesanya will likely exploit knowing Pereira cuts a considerable amount of weight and the more tiring the fight, the better it is for him. Because of the cardio advantage, the fact he was up 3 rounds to 1 last fight, and belief in his intellect with exacerbating the largest positive differential given to him, I am trusting and backing Adesanya here in this fight.

Pick: Israel Adesanya to win

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Wow and you got it wrong it’s almost like you were paid for by the UFC themselves or a third-party executive paying you to write this