UFC president Dana White has recently announced many new and exciting fights to look forward to in 2023. UFC 287 was a major announcement with the main event being a championship rematch between Alex Pereira (7-1) and Israel Adesanya (23-2). The Co-Main event will feature a ranked welterweight fight between fan favorites No.5 Gilbert Burns and No.11 Jorge Masvidal. White also announced the debut of highly touted prospect Bo Nickal who will face veteran Jamie Pickett at UFC 285.
UFC 287 Announcements
One of the most anticipated championship rematches in Middleweight history will take place on April 8th. Feared knockout artist Alex Pereira will make his return to once again face kickboxing rival Israel Adesanya. Pereira has made a historic run to the title in just four UFC fights knocking out ranked Middleweight Sean Strickland and former champion Adesanya. This will be the fourth fight between Pereira and Adesanya. Two of those fights were in the sport of kickboxing where Pereira holds a knockout and decision victory. Adesanya left the sport to attempt MMA and quickly rose to fame becoming the Middleweight champion of the UFC. While Adesanya flourished in the octagon, Pereira became a two-division world champion in kickboxing before also transitioning to MMA.
Their fight in November was an instant classic with Pereira pulling out a come-from-behind knockout victory in the final round. Adesanya had defended the Middleweight championship six times before losing to Pereira. In the Co-Main event, former Jiu-Jitsu world champion Gilbert Burns (21-5) will face the very popular Jorge Masvidal (35-16). Burns submitted Neil Magny last weekend and will quickly return to action with a ranked matchup on PPV.
Masvidal is a fan favorite but has struggled recently dropping three fights in a row to Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman (Twice). Masvidal was involved in a lengthy court case involving the alleged assault of Colby Covington outside a Miami steakhouse. This sidelined him from competition since March of last year. Masvidal is looking to get back into title contention with a win over Burns, who has been in top form recently. Also, on the card, Kevin Holland fights Santiago Ponzinibbio in a matchup of talented welterweights.
UFC Fight Night Main Events and Bo Nickal
Some potentially entertaining Fight Night Main events recently became public. Former Bantamweight champion Petr Yan (16-4) is being booked against No.3 ranked Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili (15-4) for UFC Fight Night 221 on March 11. These are two of the best fighters in the world at 135 pounds and will be the first fight against a top-five opponent in Merab’s career. A Fight Night card on April 15th will be headlined by Pedro Munhoz (19-6) and Chris Gutierrez (19-3). This will be a Bantamweight contest as well between the No.9 and No.12 ranked fighters in the world. In a surprising announcement, UFC newcomer and former 3x Division One Nation Champion Bo Nickal will make his debut against six-fight UFC vet Jamie Pickett who is (2-4) inside the promotion.
Although Nickal has never competed in the UFC he will be a massive betting favorite in this fight. I’m interested to see how Nickal looks in front of a crowd against an opponent who faced topflight competition. Nickal is more fluid with his striking than most wrestlers and enters the UFC with as much potential as any prospect in a long time. Nickal has been compared by some to Olympic wrestlers Henry Cejudo and Daniel Cormier. Each of those men was able to win UFC gold and only time will tell if Nickal can as well.
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