The UFC heads to south beach this weekend as Alex Pereira +118 and Israel Adesanya -128 rematch for the Middleweight title in the main event from the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida. The co-main event is also must-see action at Welterweight as Gilbert Burns -435 battles Jorge Masvidal +380 in what should be a wild fight for as long as it last. Now that the stage is set, let's get into my betting plays and predictions for UFC 287.
Odds Provided by Stake.com Accurate as of 10:00 AM EST 4/5/2023
A long-storied rivalry will write its next chapter in our Middleweight main event. Alex Pereira has continued to develop during his time in the UFC, having shown more than just his insane power in his last win over Adesanya, where he defended the calf kicks well and even landed a takedown. Israel Adesanya looks for revenge here, and he will likely do so using his elusive striking attack, although last fight, he did succeed when attempting to grapple during round three.
This fight is tough to pick, as Adesanya has a technical advantage. Still, predicting how he will recover from nearly five rounds with Pereira after losing is challenging, especially while giving the champ more time to develop his martial arts game. In the end, I believe Adesanya has the tools to reclaim his title here.
Pick: Adesanya O/U: Under 4.5 -128
Dangerous finishers matchup here at Welterweight. Gilbert Burns is as high-level a jiu-jitsu player as there is in the UFC, and he combines that with an aggressive striking style. Jorge Masvidal returns after over a year off here; he is a tough veteran with power in all his limbs, although his age is becoming a concern with his last few showings.
This matchup is a tough matchup for Masvidal as he has not faced a grappler this aggressive with submissions in some time, and I believe Burns will also have a striking advantage at this point in Masvidal’s career.
Pick: Burns O/U: Under 2.5 -141
Top-tier strikers collide in this Bantamweight affair. Rob Font is a very high-volume fighter who has taken some damage in recent showings. Adrian Yanez is a great counter striker who makes opponents pay for mistakes, although he has shown to be very hittable as he looks for his power shots.
I’ll take Font here as the underdog, as despite concerns about his durability, he has the tools to win this fight with the right game plan, and hopefully, the time off has refreshed his chin.
Pick: Font O/U: Over 2.5 -103
Two powerful Welterweights who are known for putting on a show meet here. Kevin Holland returns off his fight of the year contender vs. Stephen Thompson, where he injured his hand; although he did show high-level striking and durability in the bout, he has also made notable improvements to his ground game since joining the UFC. Santiago Ponzinibbio comes back after an incredible comeback knockout against Alex Morono in December, although he looked slow early in the fight and struggled greatly as a favorite over a short-notice opponent.
I’ve got Holland here as, despite his recent hand injury, he has every advantage in this fight. Considering Holland’s power and the age of Ponzinibbio, I believe Holland will finish this fight.
Pick: Holland O/U: Under 2.5 -122
Young Bantamweight prospects with bright futures go at it to start the main card. Raul Rosas Jr. looked incredible in his UFC debut over Jay Perrin, using his length on the ground to strangle him; he also has creative striking on the feet. Christian Rodriguez comes in off his first octagon win, where he showed his submission skills on offense after having to display them in defense in his fight against Jonathan Pearce.
There is a lot of hype around Rosas Jr., which has driven his price up significantly, creating a value opportunity for Christian Rodriguez as the underdog with much more experience.
Pick: Rodriguez O/U: Over 2.5 -106
Veteran Middleweight clash here in the featured prelim. Kelvin Gastelum is known for his granite chin and high pace, which will serve him well in this matchup. Chris Curtis is a hard-hitting boxer with excellent takedown defense.
I’ve got Gastelum here, as I believe he will have a speed and volume advantage that should win him the minutes against Curtis.
Pick: Gastelum O/U: Over 2.5 -233
A fan favorite makes her return in this Strawweight matchup. Michelle Waterson-Gomez returns here, and she is a veteran with a well-rounded skillset. Luana Pinheiro gets a considerable step up in competition here after an interesting start to her UFC run.
This matchup is closer than the odds indicate, with Waterson-Gomez having shown much more despite her age, so I will make a play on her to win this fight.
Pick: Waterson Gomez O/U: Over 2.5 -345
Clash of styles here at Middleweight. Gerald Meerschaert is a submission specialist who has also improved his striking game recently. Joe Pyfer is a Contender Series product coming off a big knockout win in his debut.
This is a good matchup, and Meerschaert tempts me at dog odds, but I’ll lean with Pyfer as he has impressed a lot so far.
Pick: Pyfer O/U: Over 1.5 +106
Short notice replacement fight here at Heavyweight. Karl Williams makes a quick turnaround for his second fight this month after he showed his wrestling in a win over Lukasz Brezeski just a few weeks ago. Chase Sherman looks to get back on track here after losing five of his last six fights; he is a decent striker, although his grappling is not his strong point, to say the least.
I’ve got Williams here, as his grappling advantage should lead to a dominant victory here.
Pick: Williams O/U: Under 2.5 +111
Another test for a promising young prospect here at Strawweight. Cynthia Calvillo. Lupita Godinez has impressed me at times using her dominant wrestling game, although at times she does not use it, and although her striking could be better, it will not win her high-level fights right now.
I like Godinez here as she has shown very high-level wrestling for the division and did well on the feet against Angela Hill as well.
Pick: Godinez O/U: Over 2.5 -303
Intriguing stylistic matchup here between Lightweights at a Catchweight in a late opponent swap. Trey Ogden is a solid grappler with a good submission game, although his striking is slow and hittable. Ignacio Bahamondes is a tall, long striker with good cardio and power.
I’ll take Bahamondes here, as he should have a massive striking advantage.
Pick: Bahamondes O/U: Under 2.5 -120
Classic striker vs. grappler matchup here at Featherweight early on the card. Steve Garcia is a scrappy brawler coming off a brutal knockout finish of highly touted Chase Hooper in round one. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke is a solid wrestler with good cardio and a wealth of pro experience outside of the UFC.
I’ll lean with Nuerdanbieke here as I believe his wrestling advantage will be enough for him to grind out the win, although I see no value in this number.
Pick: Nuerdanbieke O/U: Over 2.5 +115
Good fight here at Strawweight to start the card. Sam Hughes returns here; she has had an up-and-down run in the UFC at times showing strong wrestling, although she has yet to be consistent. Jaqueline Amorim makes her UFC debut here, and she has been impressive so far with six wins, all in the first round.
I’ll pick Amorim here as she seems to have a very high ceiling, although I am not willing to bet on her until I see her against UFC-level competition.
Pick: Amorim O/U: Under 2.5 -106
Rob Font +160
Christian Rodriguez +200
Kelvin Gastelum -120
Michelle Waterson-Gomez +148
Gilbert Burns by Submission +240
Kevin Holland Inside the Distance +143
Gilbert Burns + Kevin Holland -134