The UFC returns to Florida this weekend for another stacked pay-per-view card in Miami featuring a total of 12 ranked fighters, headlined by championship main event. The Miami-Dade Arena will be packed with fight fans who are sure to get quite a show.
Two longtime rivals will meet again in the octagon with the championship on the line in a main event that will truly determine in the best in the middleweight division. Plus, two top welterweights with dynamite in their hands will get the fans on their feet and bantamweight contenders will look to move up the ranks.
Bantamweight bout: Rob Font vs. Adrian Yanez
For fight fans, this is going to be a whole lot of fun. For sixth-ranked bantamweight contender Rob Font, this is almost a must-win fight. Font still sports an impressive 19-6 record and some of the best skills in the class but he is coming off of back-to-back losses. While it’s not like his job is on the line, for someone as talented and competitive as Font, slipping outside of the 10 in the division would be a very big disappointment. One of the best strikers in the sport, Font is going to stand and bang in this one.
That may just play right into the hands of the young and talented Yanez, who comes into this fight with a 16-3 record and 10 knockouts. He’s also riding a nine-fight win streak and is undefeated in his five UFC bouts. Yanez is a very talented striker with the ability to end a fight at any moment, which makes this matchup a very interesting one. This has some serious fight of he night potential.
My pick: Font via decision
Welterweight bout: Gilbert Burns vs. Jorge Masvidal
And speaking of guys who can end a fight fast, blink and you might miss this one. Burns comes in with a 21-5 record, six knockouts and 9 submissions. Burns is a heavy hitter and tends to get into striking matches, but his real advantage in this one comes on the ground. Burns submitted Neil Magny his last time out, earning himself the fifth spot in the welterweight rankings. Now, he might just be one big win away from the next shot at the crown.
Standing in his way though is a guy who literally owns the record for fastest knockout ever. Masvidal boasts a 35-16 record with 16 knockouts. And to make him even more dangerous, his back is against the wall. Having lost three straight, the former title challenger is going to be desperate for a win and he’s likely going to look to put Burns away in spectacular fashion. I would expect a big finish one way or the other in this one.
My pick: Burns via 3rd round submission
Middleweight championship bout: Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya was the undisputed king of the middleweight division and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He may still be the latter, but the championship was taken from him in November by a ghost from his past. Now, he is going to look to avenge his only lost in the UFC’s middleweight division and get his crown back.
To do that, he’s going to have to do something he’s never done before: beat Alex Pereira. The middleweight champ has now beaten his foe three times, once in MMA. Now sporting a 7-1 record with six knockouts, he has quickly become one of the most feared fighters in the sport. Behind on the scorecards in the final round of his last meeting with Adesanya, he finally landed big in the striking game and scored a dramatic knockout victory. 25 minutes is a very long time to avoid the explosive hands of Pereira and he’s going to look to make Adesanya try to do it again.
Of course, the last fight could also provide some inspiration for the former champ. Like I said, Adesanya was on his way to a decision victory before Pereira caught him in the fifth round. He’s the more technical striker and the more talented fighter, he just doesn’t possess the same nuclear option Pereira does. He doesn’t need to put his old rival away though, he just needs to survive the full 25 minutes. It will be interesting to see if Adesanya changes up his gameplan for this one. I would expect him to stick and move but wouldn't be shocked if he mixes in some grappling.
My pick: Adesanya via decision
UFC 287 will be held Saturday, April 8 at 10 PM ET. Fight fans can order the pay per view through ESPN+ and receive a special offer: $124.98 for UFC 287 and an ESPN+ annual plan. ESPN+ subscribers can order the pay per view for $79.99.