UFC 287 saw an epic middleweight fight end in the second round when Alex Pereira was knocked out by Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya.
Adesanya became the UFC Middleweight champion once again in emphatic fashion over his rival having lost three times to the Brazilian in their previous matchups.
“They said revenge is sweet, and if you know me, I’ve got a sweet tooth” Israel Adesanya said in his post-fight interview.
It was an incredible fight with plenty of betting going either way for these fighters. Adesanya fought back after when it looked like there was a chance he was in trouble. With a counter punch to the face, Pereira went down and Adesanya became the champion.
With this victory, the middleweight champion now awaits who Adesanya will go on to defend his title against.
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Having lost the title fight, Pereira will no doubt want another rematch. A third chance against Adesanya is what the Brazilian fighter would like though you would imagine he won’t be gifted the opportunity now.
A match up with another challenger could be seen as the qualifier to take on Adesanya in a championship bought. Pereira has risen to the top quickly and will be a tough matchup for anyone who wants a shot at Adesanya.
Whittaker has lost both fights previously to Adesanya but could be favorable for the first shot at the and-again champion.
He is coming off a very one-sided win over Marvin Vettori which is setting Whittaker up as the main contender for the bought should UFC not look to another Pereira/Adesanya match up.
UFC may look to give Whittaker the opportunity to fight Pereira in a bought to earn the right to take on the champion which would be an interesting battle between two different types of fighters.
Dricus Du Plessis
The South African fighter has been in fine form and has notable wins over Brad Tavaers, Darren Till, and Derek Brunson in his recent fights. This should put Du Plessis in the top five, or even the top three candidates for a shot at the championship.
Du Plessis will be looking for a fight against another rival for the opportunity to prove his validity for the chance to go up against Adesanya for the title.
After a humbling defeat to Whittaker, Vettori got back on track with a win in London over Roman Dolidze. He is a fighter who needs a run of wins, much like Whittaker, to prove they are at the top of their game and a real challenge for Adesanya.
After winning his last fight on a split decision vs. Sean Strikland, Cannonier is looking into his options for 2023 and the next opponent to face who will raise his stock further.
Cannonier is a top five middleweight who needs to look into a big fight to raise his profile to be considered for the bought with Adesanya.
A matchup with a big up-and-comer like Du Plessis could be a tempting opportunity with both fighters looking to build their reputations and appeal.
In his last fight back in August 2022, Paulo Costa won by unanimous decision over Luke Rockhold. The Brazilian fighter is on the lookout for his next fight with nothing confirmed just yet, but rumors suggest a matchup with Khamzat Chimaev could be in the works.
This would bolster his resume if he can win a matchup like this which could lead a path to a rematch with Adesanya in the future for a title challenge.
Adesanya and/or Pereira Move Up?
With no clear next move for Adesanya, or even Pereira at this point, the possibility of one or both fighters looking to make the step up in weight divisions could be on the table.
For Pereira, with the support he has as well as his reputation, he could find himself in a number one contender fight, or even going for a title, though the contender fight may be more realistic.
Pereira had brought an injection of talent to the middleweight division which it desperately needed after Adesanya had previously been dominating the division.
When Adesanya has previously tried to move up from middleweight, the results haven’t been great. Regaining his championship title though may provide a much-needed boost to have another go at it after losing to former champion Jan Blachowski in March, 2021 on his last attempt.
The next few weeks will no doubt see a number of middleweight fight announcements made while Adesanya and Pereira consider their next moves.
With a clear idea of what his potential challengers face to reach a title fight will allow Adesanya to make his decisions on what his next fight will be.
He is back as the champion of the middleweight division which he has long dominated. Fans will be intrigued by a step up to challenge while also excited to see who is next in the middleweight division.