UFC 287 Prelim Card
Women’s strawweights open the action as Jacqueline Amorim takes on Sam Hughes. Expect Amorim to get the dub and remain undefeated.
Sha Yilan battles Steve Garcia in a featherweight bout. The more experienced Yilan with 50 pro fights should take the victory.
Ignacio Bahamondes clashes with Trey Ogden in a catchweight contest. The Chilean Bahamondes is a big betting favorite and should emerge victorious.
Cynthia Calvillo faces Lupita Godinez in a women's strawweight tilt to headline the early prelims. Mexican Godinez is widely expected to get the win, but perhaps a play here on #15 ranked contender to get a submission victory.
Heavyweights are also in action as Karl Williams takes on the veteran Chase Sherman. All signs point to Williams getting the knockout victory and sending Sherman crashing to the mat.
Submission specialist Gerald Meerschaert takes on Joe Pyfer in a middleweight battle. It should be very competitive but oddsmakers are siding with Pyfer in the American versus American affair.
Michelle Waterson faces Luana Pinheiro in a women's strawweight contest. The “Karate Hottie” drops down to a prelim spot as the #10 ranked fighter looks to fading in her career with two straight losses. Pinheiro is expected to edge this one and get the win and already holds an impressive win over Randa Markos.
The featured prelim sees Chris Curtis battle former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum in a middleweight brawl of top 15 ranked fighters. This should be a very close battle likely going to a decision, but oddsmakers are just about giving Gastelum the edge to return to the win column.
UFC 287 Main Card
Rosas Jr. (7-0) v Rodriguez (8-1)
The main card opens with an exciting bantamweight bout between rising prospect Raul Rosas Jr. and Christian Rodriguez. It’s clear the promotion is high on Rosas, who became the youngest fighter in UFC history at 18 when he defeated Jay Perrin via submission back in December. Prior to that, he earned a unanimous decision win over Mando Gutierrez in Dana White's Contender Series. Overall, Rosas is 7-0 which is quite a bit of experience given his age.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is 1-1 in the UFC and coming off a submission win over Joshua Weems in October. Given that Rodriguez is just 25, it seems like a tough test for Rosas in just his second UFC fight. However, the UFC knows what it’s doing and oddsmakers believe Rosas will continue his unbeaten run and notch up his second win with the promotion on his way to becoming a promotional star out of Mexico.
Holland (23-9, 1NC) v Ponzinibbio (30-6)
Puches will be thrown as strikers Kevin Holland and Santiago Ponzinibbio collide. Holland suffered his first defeat at welterweight after a TKO (corner stoppage) loss to former title challenger Stephen Thompson in December in what was a fight of the year candidate. Prior to that, the American lost a catchweight bout to Khamzat Chimaev which followed two wins over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means.
Ponzinibbio, on the other hand, recently snapped a two-fight losing skid with a knockout victory over short-notice opponent Alex Morono in December. Prior to that, the Argentine suffered split defeats to Geoff Neal and Michel Pereira.
That said, oddsmakers expect him to return to the loss column with the younger Holland’s lack of mileage and durability likely to earn him the decision victory. Holland seems to have his head on straight, and a safe bet.
Font (19-6) v Yanez (16-3)
An intriguing bantamweight encounter between veteran Rob Font and Adrian Yanez is also on the cards. Font is currently on the first losing streak of his career following back-to-back defeats to Jose Aldo and Marlon Vera. Prior to that, he had won four in a row and was in serious contention to challenge for the title.
He won’t face an easy task returning to the win column either as he faces an extremely talented striker in Yanez. Yanez is undefeated in the UFC with a 5-0 record so far. His most recent win was a TKO victory over Tony Kelley in June.
Font is undoubtedly the toughest opponent of Yanez’s career so far and while this should be a competitive fight, Yanez should come out with the win in what would be a changing of the guard as the #12 ranked prospect rises and the #6 ranked vet falls.
Burns (21-5) v Masvidal (35-16)
The co-main event is an exciting welterweight bout with title implications as Gilbert Burns faces Jorge Masvidal. Burns recently returned to the win column with a dominant first-round submission win over Neil Magny at UFC 283 in January. Prior to that, “Durinho” was outpointed by Khamzat Chimaev in a back-and-forth war that some observers felt he could have won. Overall, Burns is 6-2 at welterweight and a win over Masvidal could put him in title contention again.
Masvidal, meanwhile, is on a three-fight losing streak. He would suffer back-to-back defeats to Kamaru Usman in their welterweight title fights before getting dominated by Colby Covington to lose a lopsided unanimous decision in March last year.
Masvidal has said himself that another defeat could signal retirement. However, the 38-year-old plans on winning in emphatic fashion and given his history with current welterweight champion Leon Edwards, he could very well earn the next title shot with a win this weekend. Gamebred learned to fight on the streets of Miami, and will have an edge as he steps back into the cage in his backyard.
That said, Burns is a heavy favorite to come out on top as his superior grappling and wrestling should give him the win over a physically declining Masvidal…. But that is what I also wrote when Masvidal faced Ben Askren!
Pereira (7-1) v Adesanya (23-2)
The main event is the MMA rematch and fight quadrilogy between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya for the middleweight title. At UFC 281 in November, it looked like Adesanya would earn revenge for his two kickboxing defeats to Pereira. However, much like their kickboxing rematch, Pereira’s left hook proved too nuclear for Adesanya who was caught in the fifth round and proceeded to suffer a TKO defeat -- his first in the UFC at 185 pounds.
Had Adesanya avoided that left hook, he was well on his way to winning a unanimous decision. While the striking was mostly even, Adesanya used his wrestling and grappling edge to control the more inexperienced (in MMA) Pereira for much of the fight.
There’s no doubt that Pereira will have worked on his grappling and wrestling since. But despite the first result and being 3-0 over Adesanya, the Brazilian still remains the slightest of underdogs to “The Last Stylebender” who is expected to regain his title and become a two-time middleweight champion.
Pereira still has the great equalizer in his hands which can (and have) win him the fight at any given moment. But as far as the safe money goes, Adesanya by a decision seems the best bet. Get out your popcorn and enjoy this one fight fans!
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About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.