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UFC 287: Five Things We Learned

UFC 287

UFC 287
(Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 287: Five Things We Learned

UFC 287 did not disappoint. The rematch between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira resulted in a historic knockout that altered the trajectory of the UFC middleweight division. The co-main saw another impressive performance from Gilbert Burns, leading to Jorge Masvidal retiring in front of his hometown of Miami, Florida. The remainder of the main card delivered too so we will have plenty to discuss. Honestly, I could have covered 10 to 15 lessons in this post, but we will keep it at five.

Israel Adesanya regained his stardom

Adesanya had his back up against the wall at UFC 287. That is not an attempt to be dramatic either. A second loss against Pereira would have greatly damaged his legacy. Instead, he rose to the occasion and knocked Pereira out cold. 

From a mental aspect, the hurdles that Adesanya had to overcome were immense. The idea of fighting someone that had beaten you three times across two different sports is not an easy task. That task is only more intimidating when that fighter is one of the best kickboxers alive and has lethal knockout power. The fact that Adesanya had the resolve to get aggressive and throw knockout shots makes his win even more impressive. 

In my opinion, the feeling around this fight was special. UFC 287 was a massive event that drew a lot of attention. I wished the UFC still disclosed pay-per-view buys because I would be genuinely curious to see how many buys this event got. Regardless, the aftermath was truly felt. Adesanya’s revenge knockout and subsequent celebration will go down as one of the most memorable moments in MMA history. The social media attention surrounding Adesanya was evident as well. 

Adesanya needed this type of win badly. He has always been a star in the sport, but his stardom was fading. The losses to Pereira and Jan Blachowicz along with his underwhelming fights against Jared Cannonier, Marvin Vettori and Robert Whitaker killed a lot of Adesanya’s mainstream hype. I think he has regained everything he had and has possibly reached a new high in popularity. 

Gilbert Burns is working toward the top

Burns is slowly working his way to the top of the welterweight division. Burns got a clear decision victory over Masvidal at UFC 287. It looks like that win has entered his name into the title conversation. To be clear, it looks like Leon Edwards will be fighting Colby Covington with Burns in line for the winner. 

This will obviously not be great news for Belal Muhammad. I am not going to sit here and argue whether Burns or Muhammad is the more deserving of the two. You can make a legit case for both guys. With that in mind, why can’t we see these two fight each other? At the moment, a bunch of welterweights are sitting around arguing over who should get the next title shot, but we rarely see any of the top guys fight. One fight between two top-five guys could solve that issue. Still, Burns being next in line is not a terrible outcome if no other welterweights get a top win.

Jorge Masvidal Retired at the right time 

Masvidal called it a career at UFC 287 in his hometown of Miami, Florida.

First and foremost, Masvidal has an outstanding career. No, he never reached UFC gold, but he did reach MMA stardom. That is probably more difficult than becoming a champion anyways. Not to mention, Masvidal entertained fans for years with great fights and highlight knockouts. The fact that he was able to retire in Miami is a great way to conclude his career.

More importantly, Masvidal was able to get out of the sports without being knocked out cold. As unfortunate as it is, that is the reality for most fighters. Plus, it was clear that Masvidal’s skills were diminished. It is hard to say that he has the same speed and explosiveness that he did in his prime.

Rob Font halts the Adrian Yanez hype train 

The Adrian Yanez hype train was strong heading into UFC 287. That hype was well deserved too. Yanez has all the makings of a UFC star. Rob Font emphatically put a stop to that hype train though. Font landed a picture-perfect knockout and made a statement of his own.

Font deserves all the credit in the world for this performance. First off, not many fighters ranked as highly as Font would be willing to fight down in the rankings. Yet, Font accepted the fight. Furthermore, he fought well. Font was able to get his jab going early and eventually set up the shot that finished the fight.

I do not think that it is time to waive the white flag on Yanez though. Despite losing, he found success. At the start of the fight, he landed some really nice shots and looked to be in a groove. Yes, he has a few adjustments that he has to make, but he still demonstrated all of the tools that make him an exciting prospect. A few small adjustments will make serve him well in the long run.

If you want a podcast-style breakdown of UFC 287, check out today’s episode of the Vendetta Sports Media Daily Show.

Raul Rosas Jr. is not quite ready 

Adrian Yanez was not the only fighter that had their hype train derailed at UFC 287. The other was Raul Rosas Jr. Rosas, the youngest fighter to sign with the UFC, was unable to get the job done against Christian Rodriguez and suffered his first career loss.

Rodriguez has a lot of the skills required to defeat Rosas. The most important were strong grappling defense and cardio. After Rodriguez managed to defend against the early grappling onslaught he was the fresher fighter and walked to a victory.

The book is out on Rosas. He is a great grappler that has cardio issues and subpar striking. That would be awful if he was 33 years old, but he is only 18. That said, he needs to make the needed improvements before it’s too late. At this point, we will be left to monitor Rosas to see if he can progress his skills.


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