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UFC 287: Fight Odds & Predictions


There aren’t a lot of Floridian fighters on the card, but given the Latin population in Miami, the UFC made sure to place a lot of Latin-American fighters on the card. Florida always gets wild for MMA events, so expect a lively atmosphere throughout the night.

Their fourth meeting across two combat sports, Alex “Poatan” Pereira headlines UFC 287 against the “Stylebender”, Israel Adesanya. Despite Pereia holding a 3-0 advantage in the series, the feeling still remains that Adesanya could steal a win from his foe. In the kickboxing bout that went the distance, you could argue that Adesanya won. In the two bouts that Pereira won via stoppage, Adesanya was ahead up until that point. Bragging rights, as well as the undisputed middleweight title, will be on the line when these two face off Saturday.

Here are some burning questions that Adesanya has to answer; what has he taken away from their first three fights? Will he fight anxiously, with his back against the cage like he did last November? Will he fight more aggressively and meet Pereira in the center as he did in their second kickboxing match? How much wrestling and grappling will he implement? These are the main questions he has to answer, navigating against his dangerous foe. 

Despite the record being what it is, I’m swaying toward Adesanya pulling it off here. It’s clear that Pereira has landed the harder, more crushing shots in their first three bouts. However, Adesanya has gotten his fair share of licks as well. If he had more time in round one, he could’ve potentially finished him in their last bout.

Pereira will win again if Adesanya fights as he did in November. He has too many ways to finish you with strikes if you back up and give him the time and space to find you. I don’t know what gameplan Israel and Eugene Bareman will adopt for this fight. If you ask me, Adesanya’s best bet is to meet Pereira in the center and refuse to give ground. If he works in combination off his feints, he will make Pereira pause and think. The opportunity will be there for Poatan to counter his aggression and land a dagger, however, giving Pereira too much space is just as, if not more dangerous. I believe Adesanya and Bareman will use the correct game plan and win a competitive battle.

Prediction: Israel Adesanya (-130) defeats Alex Pereira (+110) via decision.

The welterweight division has gotten more interesting since the title switched hands last August. Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal will fight to put their name in the sweepstakes for the next guy in line. Burns is hoping to earn his second win in 2023. Masvidal will attempt to win his first fight since 2019. With all the contenders at 170, arguments have been made regarding who deserves what. Regardless, a win at UFC 287 will give either of these guys an argument to get the next title shot.

Despite the fluid striker he is, Masvidal has a bad habit of coasting sometimes. The older he’s gotten, the more his opponents have made him pay for it. He is currently on a three-fight skid, with each loss looking worse than the previous. He’s past his prime, fighting an opponent who’s still in great form.

Burns should be able to shut out Masvidal following Usman and Covington’s blueprint. I expect him to pressure Masvidal and outwork him on the feet. Jorge’s takedown defense seems to be deteriorating as well. With the relentless pressure Burns can bring, Jorge will go down eventually. Masvidal is great at defending himself and rarely gets finished, but Burns’ jiu-jitsu will be too much once they tangle up. Maybe Jorge lands some good shots on the feet, but Burns will land more frequently. Once they hit the ground, Burns will swamp him.

Prediction: Gilbert Burns (-450) defeats Jorge Masvidal (+360) via submission, round 2.

Rob Font and Adrian Yanez will meet in a 135-pound crossroads battle. Yanez has been electrifying since he made it to the UFC through The Contender Series. 5-0 in the organization, Yanez will look to extend that streak at UFC 287. Rob Font is a respected vet, but he’s currently on a two-fight losing streak. He’ll be the toughest opponent yet for Yanez, who has steamrolled his UFC competition without breaking much of a sweat.

Despite getting battered in his last two bouts, Rob Font was still able to show what he does best in those fights. His consistent offense and fundamental boxing make him formidable as a foe. He fires the jab constantly, throwing combinations at a high volume. However, his defense and durability failed him lately, as he’s been getting nailed with hard counters. Given how sharp of a counterpuncher Yanez is, he should take advantage of those same windows.

I question what Font will do, if anything, to make it more of a complete MMA fight. Both fighters are known for their boxing, but Font can mix it up occasionally. Will he attempt any takedowns to exhaust him? Will he throw more strikes at kicking range? All of those would be good ideas, but I don’t think he can do those things well enough to keep Yanez from lighting him up. I expect Font to look great early and build off his jab. Eventually, Yanez will throw back, countering Font’s offense and taking over the fight. Font’s durability has been diminishing, and Yanez will take advantage of that and finish him.

Prediction: Adrian Yanez (-180) defeats Rob Font (+155) via TKO, round 3.

Kevin Holland and Santiago Ponzinibbio will go to battle on the second fight of the main card. After suffering a myriad of injuries that left him on the shelf for years, Ponzinibbio has had mixed results since his return in 2021. He’s lost three of his last five bouts but will enter UFC 287 riding high off a comeback victory. Holland, currently on a two-fight skid, will attempt to right the ship against the 36-year-old Argentinian.

Ponzinibbio has dealt with injuries and infections that have affected his in-cage performances. It’s a shame, considering the relentless striker he was in his prime. He’s a step slower and his presence is not as menacing as it was from 2016-2018. Holland should be able to feast on Ponzinibbio with his speed and his unpredictable nature. A snappy hitter and rangy striker, Holland will give Ponz a healthy dosage of straight punches and front kicks on the feet. He can also get wild with his shot selection, leaping into the pocket and throwing whatever comes to his mind. It’s that unpredictability that makes him dangerous.

Ponz is still pretty durable, and his straight right can sting. Unfortunately for him, he has slowed down. Kevin Holland’s dynamism as a kickboxer will keep Ponzinibbio a step behind the entire fight. I anticipate Ponzinibbio making it the distance, but Holland has the advantage, being the younger guy with fresher legs.

Prediction: Kevin Holland (-245) defeats Santiago Ponzinibbio (+205) via decision.

Chris Curtis will have his 40th professional fight at UFC 287 when he battles Kelvin Gastelum. Despite Curtis’ fight count, Gastelum has more UFC experience and has fought the who’s who in two weight divisions. Gastelum has been in a rough patch lately; he’s lost five of his last six bouts and hasn’t made it to the cage since 2021. Unless another pre-fight injury occurs, he’ll fight a 35-year-old making a late-career surge in Chris Curtis.

Gastelum has been a frustrating fighter to follow over the years. The speed and punching power are there. The lightning left hand and the offensive boxing is there. He’s got some wrestling chops in his back pocket. However, his performance can be up and down depending on the form he shows up in.

Gastelum should be able to win round 1 with his activity, as Curtis tends to start fights slow. But as he starts to find his opening, I expect Curtis to land clean counters and punish Gastelum within the pocket. Curtis is a great offensive boxer who lands hard hooks and uppercuts. He also throws punches to the body with intensity. The variety of his boxing attack should give Curtis a decision nod against the more predictable Gastelum. He’ll likely lose the first round as he often does, but he will rally from there.

Prediction: Chris Curtis (+100) defeats Kelvin Gastelum (-120) via decision.

Michelle Waterson-Gomez & Luana Pinheiro square off at UFC 287 in what appears to be a crossroads battle. Pinheiro will compete for the first time since 2021, looking to pick up where she last left off. 2-0 in the UFC, she will face Waterson-Gomez, who is 6-6 in the UFC. A long-time judoka, Pinheiro will look to impose her will against “The Karate Hottie”. 

A former atomweight, Waterson has been smaller than almost everyone she’s fought at strawweight. I think Pinheiro will bully Waterson with her size and her judo expertise. If Waterson can’t keep Pinheiro at a safe distance with her kicks, she will struggle to compete with Pinheiro in the clinch.

Admittedly, Waterson can be a dangerous grappler herself. She’ll pursue the head and arm throw and will take you back, threatening chokes if you give her the chance. However, Pinheiro’s size and experience in the grappling phases will make a big difference here. She’ll be accustomed to Waterson’s clinch throws and should dictate the fight once they tie up and grapple. Luana will dominate the first two rounds at least, then proceed to win a decision.

Prediction: Luana Pinheiro (-165) defeats Michelle Waterson-Gomez (+140) via decision.

Gerald Meerschaert has been a perennial gatekeeper since he stepped foot in the UFC; a litmus test for those wondering if they’re ready for top 15 competition. He will continue to play that role when he takes on Joseph Pyfer at UFC 287. Pyfer has been a darling of Dana White since his performance on The Contender Series. Meerschaert will be a massive step up for the Philadelphia native looking to make a statement.

I think it’s safe to assume Pyfer will have a fast start in this fight. He’s a strong wrestleboxer and a versatile finisher. I see him landing a short punch that will put Meerschaert on skates. His top game also gives Meerschaert something to worry about. However, if you don’t finish a guy like Meerschaert early, you’re in for an exhausting battle. 

As slow as he is, Meerschaert is a consistent grinder. His striking is rudimentary, but he can take a fight over if his opponent gasses. On the ground, he’s a threat everywhere with his submissions. I expect Meerschaert to weather an early storm, find some success later in round two, and submit Pyfer as he flags in round three. Going with the underdog here.

Prediction: Gerald Meerschaert (+160) defeats Joseph Pyfer (-190) via submission, round 3.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my fight predictions. For more sports-related content, head over to Belly Up Sports. We have articles, op-eds, and podcasts available on our website. Want to continue this discussion? You can find me on Twitter @RevKoka.

American with proud Nigerian roots. Former student-athlete. WCU alum. MMA and football enthusiast. Offensive line lover. Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Waver of the Terrible Towel.

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