UFC 287 is coming up this weekend, a stacked card top to bottom with the 4th fight of the Izzy and Pereira saga, a massive welterweight fight between Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns with possible title implications and highly touted prospect Raul Rosas Jr opening up the main card against Christian Rodriguez just to name a few. Here I am gonna give my opinion and try and answer the looming questions that this fight week has brought.
What would defeat mean for Israel Adesanya and his legacy?
It’s an interesting question, his UFC run has been nothing short of incredible as he’s established himself as one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters of this era and amongst the best middleweights in the sport’s history. Victories over Anderson Silva, Marvin Vettori (twice), Derek Brunson, Kelvin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker (twice), Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Jared Cannonier speak for themselves. As we’ve seen with Kamaru Usman recent consecutive losses to the same fighter have a way of restricting what we once thought was possible of a great fighter’s legacy. Does Pereira simply just have Izzy’s number, and does that mean Izzy is restricted from being in the conversation with the very best of all time? Only time will tell, the victory for Pereira in the previous matchup took the score to 3-0 across mixed martial arts and kickboxing and it’s fair to say that each time Izzy was winning until he wasn’t. It is simply the toughest fight of Izzy’s career, the toughest opponent stylistically, and now undoubtedly the most important.
Could a win for Masvidal lead to a title shot instead of Colby?
It feels like a long time ago in the sport but remember in 2019 when Masvidal seemingly came out of nowhere from a 16-month layoff, to score a trio of highlight-reel stoppages and claim the BMF title and fighter of the year? In the three years since he has only fought once each year, with two title fights against former champ Kamaru Usman the latter ending via a KO loss, and a decision loss to heated rival Colby ‘chaos” Covington. I really believe Masvidal can jump the line for one final crack at the title with a big statement win here in his hometown of Miami, which happens to be the first UFC PPV in the area since 2003. The odds will be stacked against 38-year-old Jorge Masvidal as he runs into a red-hot Gilbert Burns who himself is looking to give Dana White and the UFC something to think about. Dana has already said that Colby Covington will be getting the next title shot against Leon Edwards, the champ doesn’t seem to agree to believe that Masvidal makes more sense. With Masvidal having such a huge following as a street icon one has to wonder whether Masvidal could cut the line with a big performance here, I believe he can.
Which fighters could potentially steal the show?
Here I’m gonna highlight three fighters I believe could steal the show at UFC 287. Firstly I’m gonna go with Kevin Holland, someone who has made himself a real crowd favourite. Although he’s coming off consecutive losses he remains the type of fighter capable of stealing any show he fights on. He seems willing to fight anyone at any time and has a fun fight style that fans and the UFC brass alike enjoy. Holland probably needs to beat Santiago Ponzinibbio this weekend if he wants to continue a run to the title at 170 and could well do it in show-stealing fashion. Secondly, UFC middleweight Chris ‘action man’ Curtis, is truly an action man by name and nature with 5 appearances in the octagon to date with a record of 4-1 and 3 vicious KOs in that time. He finds himself coming up against Kelvin Gastelum which is probably his toughest fight to date, if Curtis can get through this test he may well steal the show and enter the elite amongst middleweight. Finally, I’ve gone with Adrian Yanez who always produces excitement when he’s in the octagon, with 5 appearances in the octagon to date and a performance bonus for each bout 4 of which he’s finished by KO or TKO I believe he is most likely to steal the show at UFC 287. He finds himself standing across the octagon from Rob Font in what promises to be a great fight and my pick for fight of the night.
Could defeat for Kelvin Gastelum be the end of his UFC tenure?
Kelvin Gastelum is entering the featured preliminary bout at UFC 287 against Chris ‘action man’ Curtis with a record of 1-5 in his previous 6 UFC outings. Credit where credit is due he’s only fought the elite in that stretch including a fight of the year with former champ Israel Adesanya and a loss to another former champ in Robert Whittaker just to name a couple. Kelvin hasn’t stepped in the octagon since August of 2021, due to injuries and cancelled bouts. He believes he’s in the right frame of my mind to turn his fortunes around and make another run at middleweight. With a loss here at UFC 287 I don’t believe that the UFC cuts Kelvin he simply has a very exciting fight style that fans and the UFC alike enjoy and always bring it. I do believe you could see him test free agency similarly to Darren Till who recently asked the UFC for a release, maybe believing his time amongst the elite is over. Kelvin is no doubt a tough night for anyone in the division just hasn’t made the improvements that have been needed to keep him in the title picture at middleweight, I am worried that a potential 6th defeat in his previous 7 fights could lead to him walking away from the company.
Is Raul Rosas Jr a legit future star?
Raul Rosas Jr became the youngest fighter to ever sign with the UFC signing as a 17-year-old last year. He then became the youngest fighter in the company’s history to compete and win inside the octagon a few short months later at 18. Born in Mexico in 2005, home to some of the very best fight fans in the world, the writing seems to be on the wall for a legit future star and contender. This Saturday at UFC 287 he finds himself opening up the main card against the tough and durable Christian Rodriguez, where a win would take him to 8-0 and in my opinion, place him exclusively on the main cards going forward. Since arriving on the scene Rosas Jr as looked as if he belongs, with his UFC debut victory coming by way of 1st round submission. I believe this matchup against Christian Rodriguez should give fans and matchmakers alike an updated picture of where Rosas is at right now and the level of competition that he’s ready for and just how bright his future might be. Given the time he has to make improvements, how hot Mexican martial arts is at the moment, and his high-level grappling game I believe the UFC could have a legit future star on their hands and he is without a doubt one to keep an eye on.