What’s Next: UFC 287 Winners

Israel Adesanya UFC
Israel Adesanya poses with his championship belt following UFC 276. Photo: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

This past weekend, the UFC returned to Miami for the first time in over 20 years with a blockbuster card in UFC 287.

The main event was a huge grudge match between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya, who were meeting for their fourth time in combat sports. Adesanya finally did what many thought he couldn’t, not only beating Pereira, but viscously knocking him out.

Let’s take a look at what could be next for the winners.

Israel Adesanya

“The Last Stylebender” put not only the doubts of a lot of fans, but his own doubts to bed this past Saturday, starching the then middleweight champion, Pereira.

Despite being the challenger and losing his last three meetings with Pereira, Adesanya came into the bout as a slight favourite to reclaim gold. Round one began with Pereira chewing up the legs of Adesanya, despite the stance he was fighting in. With Adesanya being notorious for constantly switching stances, this meant both his legs were becoming majorly compromised.

Again in round two, Pereira carried on chopping at the legs of the 33-year-old really nullifying his movement, allowing him to push the former champion against the cage and cut off the angles.

Adesanya is always in the fight though, and with just a minute left of round two, Adesanya caught Pereira with a perfect 1-2 combo with his back to the cage, knocking the Brazilian clean out.

The middleweight division now finds itself back in the same position it was less than six months ago, crying out for contenders. With Adesanya being the champion once again, the contenders beneath him, he has already cleared out.

Dricus Du Plessis is someone who has only recently emerged into the top eight of the rankings, and there is already a slight storyline between the two with the African connection. Despite that, Du Plessis is nowhere near ready to fight for a title in my opinion.

Jan Blachowicz congratulated Adesanya on his win this past weekend and mentioned how he’d like to rematch him for the title, but this time at middleweight. With there being no clear contender, the UFC may entertain that. Khamzat Chimaev has pledged his full-time move to 185lbs, but I think a fight with Whittaker should be next for him to dictate who gets the next title shot.

Adesanya’s Next Fight: Jan Blachowicz

Gilbert Burns

“Durinho” gave Jorge Masvidal a loss to ride off into the sunset with, but unfortunately it doesn’t do much for the Brazilian.

Coming into this fight, the talking points were whether Masvidal could possibly beat Burns and cut a promo for fighting the champion Leon Edwards, surpassing Colby Covington. Masvidal couldn’t though as Gilbert Burns’ well-roundedness prevailed.

Burns still stands as one of the best and most well rounded fighters in the division, but unfortunately for him, he won’t get a look in before Covington and therefore will have to fight another contender before he’s awarded another title shot.

As unfair and unfortunate as it sounds, Burns may find himself having to fight Shavkat Rakhmonov next to determine who’s next. That though depends on what Kamaru Usman decides to do. Belal Muhammad has put his name in the hat to fight the former champion, so that leaves Burns with Shavkat as the only likely possibility. Muhammad was to have been paired up with Shavkat, per Dana White, but doesn’t seem interested, leaving the door open for Burns — who has been granted a backup spot for the Covington fight.

Burns’ Next Fight: Shavkat Rakhmonov 

Rob Font

The ever game Rob Font put a stop to the upward trajectory of Adrian Yanez at UFC 287, stopping him in the first round of their back and fourth fight. In picking up the win against Yanez, Font snapped his two fight skid.

Font’s issue has been present when he’s came against the upper echelon of the division. With bantamweight being one of the deepest divisions in the promotion, there are several dance partners that make sense for Font and his next outing.

The undefeated Umar Nurmagomedov is on the fringes of a top 10 ranking, and outside of the top 10 is one of the only fighters who doesn’t already have a fight booked.

If Umar cannot find a fight between now and October, a fight with Font at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi could be a great opportunity.

Font’s Next Fight: Umar Nurmagomedov 

Kevin Holland

On the lead up to fight night, “Big Mouth” almost got in trouble for being exactly that, again. Holland and Jorge Masvidal got into several fight week altercations with Dana White telling the media to stop bringing it up in interviews to try and prevent the two from getting to each other.

Luckily for the UFC, they managed to keep the two away from one another long enough, with the two making it to their respective fights. Snapping his two fight losing skid, Holland bounced back with an impressive finish over Santiago Ponzinibio.

During the fight, Holland seemed hesitant to throw his right hand, the same hand he had surgery on after breaking it against “Wonderboy” in December. After the fight he admitted that he was having trouble with it during the fight and was almost entirely forced to only throw kicks and his left hand.

The “Trailblazer” got it done though with one healthy hand and an arsenal of kicks, once again putting him in an interesting spot.

If Jorge Masvidal decides he’s not entirely done, that is categorically the fight to make, but unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely. Vicente Luque has been fighting the upper echelon of the division for a while now, but it may be time for him to take a fight outside of the top 10. A fight between these two men would be fireworks.

Holland’s Next Fight: Vicente Luque

Christian Rodriguez

The 25-year-old, Christian Rodriguez weathered the early storm of the soaring sensation, Raul Rosas Jr, making him pay for it in rounds two and three, sailing to a decision win.

Rosas Jr was someone the UFC were pushing to be one of their next stars, and he still could be, but either way, Rodriguez has gained some of Rosas Jr’s shine with his win. Just three fights into his UFC career, Rodriguez has showcased a skillset that can be dangerous for a lot of fighters.

This Monday on The MMA Hour, Rodriguez outlined his desire to fight Cameron Saaiman for his next fight, and that is one that would be utterly sensational.

Rodriguez’s Next Fight: Cameron Saaiman 


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