As the MMA world sets its sights on Miami, the UFC 287 event promises to deliver a thrilling middleweight title match between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya. This will mark their fourth meeting, with Pereira emerging victorious in all three previous encounters, twice in kickboxing and once in MMA.
The Future of the Middleweight Division
With Adesanya having already defeated top contenders such as Robert Whittaker, Marvin Vettori, Jared Cannonier, and Paulo Costa, some are left wondering what lies ahead for the champion if he loses to Pereira.
On the other hand, if Adesanya secures a win, the question remains as to who will be his next worthy opponent, with no clear challenger in sight.
Emerging as a Potential Challenger: Khamzat Chimaev
As for Pereira, the only top 10 fighters he has faced are Adesanya and Sean Strickland, leaving a plethora of options for his next appearance.
One name that has been making waves is Khamzat Chimaev, the undefeated Chechen with a Swedish passport. Currently ranked as the third-best welterweight challenger, Chimaev may transition to the middleweight division as it has become increasingly challenging for him to make weight in the welterweight category.
The UFC is expected to push Chimaev towards a title shot as soon as possible, which could potentially come in the form of a match against one of the top middleweight contenders. However, Pereira is not overly concerned with the prospect of facing Chimaev in the octagon.
Bring on the Competition
"Whoever the UFC puts against me after this fight, I'll be willing and ready," stated Pereira at UFC 287's media day. "Talking about Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker, I respect them. I don't see them talking trash at me, wanting to promote themselves.
Chimaev ran from everybody." Chimaev recently claimed that he could finish Pereira in the "first round, first minute" if they were to face off. Pereira responded, "I'm not lost as he is. Chimaev, I'll not even talk about him." It is worth noting that Pereira offered Chimaev a match in the light heavyweight category earlier this year, which Chimaev reportedly declined.
While it remains unclear if the UFC was willing to organize such a match, it is likely that Pereira and Chimaev will cross paths in the future, with the potential for "bad blood" between the two.