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FutureStarrUFC Miami Fight Preview - Middleweight Showdown
Israel Adesanya's Middleweight showdown against Alex Pereira will put his division on notice this weekend. On the Main Card, fans should enjoy seeing Welterweights Kevin Holland and Santiago Ponzinibbio collide. Jorge Masvidal returns home when he faces Gilbert Burns in the Co-Main Event of this event, with victory potentially setting up a rematch with welterweight champion Leon Edwards. Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira share an intense rivalry, going back four competitive bouts across two sports and Adesanya coming away victorious each time with knockout victories. But Pereira remains an effective striker who has outwitted Adesanya on multiple occasions in previous clashes. New Zealander Mark Wood was a widely revered kickboxing champion prior to transitioning into mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2020, and made no secret of his displeasure with its grappling element. Without submission threats available in MMA ringfights, Wood struggled with dominating opponents; eventually becoming one of its premier 185-pound competitors. At UFC 281, Adesanya looked on track to beat Pereira when he took control in the opening three rounds and appeared likely for victory. In the fourth and final round, however, Pereira unleashed a devastating onslaught that forced referee to call off the fight due to Pereira's intense attack and ultimately force Adesanya out with injuries. At first glance, Pereira appeared poised for victory at UFC 287 rematch with Adesanya; however, Adesanya had other plans. Staying patient, the Last Stylebender baited Pereira into making mistakes during round two before unleashing a devastating left hand to finish him off with one strike from Adesanya that sent Pereira backward. Chael Sonnen recently provided his opinion and believes a third fight between Adesanya and Pereira should occur, given how close their first meeting was and that Adesanya has already defeated many top contenders on his journey towards becoming champion. On Saturday night in Miami, Adesanya will look to expand his record against Pereira and build on his winning streak. Both men are formidable strikers; however, success may depend on who can find success on the ground first. Pereira recently trained under ground specialist Glover Texiera to increase his wrestling capabilities; Adesanya, however, has proven adept at keeping distance and using his long frame effectively to their advantage. Jose Masvidal vs. Gilbert Burns On Saturday, the UFC returns to Miami after over 20 years with an exciting co-main event featuring hometown heroes Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal - two fighters on their way towards championship shots at welterweight who will fight before their own fans for the first time at Kaseya Center. Mike Bohn, Brian Garcia and Dan Tom from MMA Junkie's Spinning Back Clique panel discussed this week's fight on this week's episode of their show MMA Junkie "Spinning Back Clique". You can catch all of our video content right here on MMA Junkie as well. Belal Muhammad remains unstoppable at welterweight, and on Saturday night he made sure everyone knows it with an impressive five-round win over Gilbert Burns in only four days notice. Muhammad (23-3-1 NC) switched stances constantly while using heavy body kicks to outpoint a compromised Burns. Kamaru Usman tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and will instead face Masvidal in a welterweight fight on the main card. Burns and Masvidal have met twice before with Burns earning one victory through split decision. Jorge Masvidal may be considered an underdog against Gilbert Burns at UFC Miami, but he's proven himself to be a formidable fighter at 170 pounds over his career. Known for his powerful boxing and dominant wrestling abilities - qualities which will no doubt come into play this weekend - Jorge's hard-hitting Texan style should keep Burns guessing. Burns is an expert walker on the feet who uses his straight left hand to keep the game plan fresh against Masvidal. However, Burns also boasts impressive wrestling ability that can make things tough for his opponents when on the mat. Kelvin Gastelum vs. Chris Curtis Kelvin Gastelum is known to engage in brutal slugfests inside the Octagon, making him a fan favorite when he steps foot inside it. Unfortunately, in his last fight he lost via unanimous decision against Jared Cannonier; now 1-5 overall and needing to secure victory against Chris Curtis to return on track. Gastelum boasts an exceptional wrestling foundation and can hold his own on the ground against most opponents. Additionally, he's an above-average striker but doesn't always hit his power shots on target; if he can improve his accuracy and use of footwork more efficiently then he will pose a tough test to any middleweight contenders in their path. Curtis is an experienced boxer who utilizes lateral movement and angles to land heavy combinations above his head. Additionally, he boasts excellent takedown defense that has him confident in taking control of this fight by throwing opponents onto the mat. As such, Curtis poses a very real threat as an underdog contender that could pull off an upset win. Curtis has never been knocked out in the UFC, yet their fighting styles are quite comparable. Gastelum may have an edge as an experienced fighter with whom he may be more familiar with all aspects of MMA fighting and thus could avoid many potential pitfalls that Curtis may experience in battle. Gastelum boasts outstanding striking skills, but also has impressive endurance and a powerful chin - two traits essential for fighters who favor exchanging blows with opponents and possibly engaging in an all-out slugfest in the final round. Curtis claimed he was denied a Fight of the Night award against Gastelum because the referee missed an inadvertent headbutt, intending to file an appeal and challenge this decision. Curtis believes such an incident would have necessitated stopping of the fight and an evaluation of Gastelum's condition, prompting an assessment before continuing with their bout. Raul Rosas Jr. vs. Christian Rodriguez Raul Rosas Jr. will get another opportunity to showcase his skills this weekend when he faces Christian Rodriguez for a second time in a UFC fight. At 18 years old, Rosas could possibly break Jon Jones' 12-year old record of youngest champion. Rosas made his promotional debut last December against Jay Perrin, winning quickly via submission victory. But in his next fight, Mexican fighter Miguel Ibarguen came up against an unlikely foe in Christian Rodriguez from Roufusport. Rodriguez has far more experience against higher-level competition; having won one and lost one fight so far during two appearances in the UFC, with most recently recording a first round submission win against Joshua Weems in his most recent outing. Rosas must contend with Rodriguez, an elite striker with an additional four-inch reach advantage who is an exceptional grappler capable of throwing punches and knees from any angle, while his superior grappling skill allows for takedown attempts and ground-and-pound attacks. But regardless of his skill level, it remains uncertain whether Rodriguez can match Rosas' aggressive style. The youngster can sometimes overextended himself due to hype train distractions and make some uncharacteristic errors; additionally he often gets caught up in submission attempts from below positions. As such, Rodriguez is susceptible to being overwhelmed by Rosas and being taken down to the mat, potentially making for a long night for him. His best chance at victory lies with keeping a distance and attacking from outside with counter punches; failing this strategy may prove disastrous and lead him into danger.