UFC 287
Brazil's Alex Pereira, right, blocks a punch from Nigeria's Israel Adesanya during the fifth round of a middleweight title bout in the UFC 281 mixed martial arts event, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in New York. Pereira stopped Adesanya in the fifth round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Four Fights, One Legacy Lead to UFC 287

Will Israel Adesanya reclaim the middleweight championship of the world at UFC 287, or will Alex Periera’s legacy shine upon the UFC with a fourth victory (second in the UFC) over the Last Stylebender?

Goat to Challenger

Israel Adesanya went from on his way to middleweight goat status to hearing “and new” in the course of just one night.

Riding five consecutive defenses of his middleweight title, Adesanya, to many, felt untouchable. The Last Stylebender was approaching a level of greatness that stood out amongst even the top one percent.

Adesanya, the cash cow of the UFC, had fought and dismantled every opponent he faced in the 185-pound division. Many spectators, analysts and even fighters within the UFC were wondering, what’s next? What could possibly come after you have conquered all? Here, crawling out of the shadows, came Israel Adesanya’s worst nightmare…

Hands of Stone

Alex “Poaton” Pereira earns his nickname from its meaning and his skill.

Poaton, from Brazil’s native Tupi language, translates to, “hands of stone.”

Pereira was the only man to ever knockout Adesanya. Now, he is the only man who has ever done it twice. Gaining his name from his power, Periera was famous amongst kickboxers for his one-punch knockout prowess.

In a sport of violence and war, Poaton stood out compared with even the most dangerous men on the planet. Amid Adesanya’s glory and championship reign, Pereira, initially a kickboxer, was training for his transition to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

The only man to ever finish Adesanya was making his way to MMA.

Fast Track to the Title

The storyline was there – Izzy takes on the only man to ever knock him out.

The question: Could Alex Pereira attain wins and make this fight happen? Poatons’ douters were real. Claims that he didn’t have the wrestling base to go anywhere in MMA circled rapidly throughout social media.

Wrestling base or not, it did not matter.

Soon after his signing with the UFC, Pereira proved his belonging. He shot up in the rankings, earning two quick but devastating knockouts in his opening two fights in the UFC.

Just like that, Poaton was a contender. The Izzy fight was real. This chapter of MMA was drawing near its climax.

And New

Being that it was their third meeting, the Last Stylebender and Alex “Poaton” Pereira had a good sense of each other’s fighting style and ability.

The widespread opinion in the community of MMA was always “and still” – Israel Adesanya remains the hunted at 185. There was always this sliver of doubt, though. Who is Alex Pereira? He finished Izzy once, can he do it again?

The fight began, and what was expected proved true. Izzy was winning the majority of the contest, doing what he does best – sticking and moving. Like always, Izzy was hitting and evading, taking minimal damage while inflicting pain on Alex Pereira. There was an aura in the air, though. Something felt off, unusual. Sure enough, this aura existed. This powerful energy revealed itself as Alex Pereira’s rage, and desire to win.

In the final round of this championship bout, Alex Pereira shocked the world. Left hook, right hand, left hook, left hook, the punches just kept coming. The ref stepped in, it was over. From the ashes rose a new middleweight champion of the world, Alex “Poaton” Pereira.

Fourth Time’s a Charm?

On Saturday, Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira collide in their fourth and potentially final fight.

Many things in this world exist for a reason, Air exists so we can breathe, water exists so we can drink and food exists so we can eat. Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya exist to fight. These two men crossed paths for a reason, their lives forever intertwined by a beautiful combined display of mixed martial arts.

As the Izzy, Poaton chapter of MMA draws near its final curtain, all we can do is wonder. Will Izzy re-write history, flipping the script and defeating Pereira with his fourth opportunity to do so, or will the story remain the same? Pereira is a man who has, and always has had, Israel Adesanya’s number.

Tune In

UFC 287 takes place Saturday in Miami, Florida.

The schedule is as follows:

Early Prelims – 6 p.m.

Pre Lims – 8 p.m.

Main Card – 10 p.m.

About Nate Bilgoray

Nate Bilgoray is a sophomore at the University of Florida studying sports journalism. Nate is from New York and is an avid fan of the Yankees, Giants and Knicks. He loves mixed martial arts and would love to do play-by-play for the UFC one day. Nate is a host for WRUF's talk show, the sports lab, and is a play-by-play broadcaster for The Orange and Blue Sports Network.

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