It’s been twenty years since the UFC has put on an event in Miami (since UFC 42 in 2003!), and you know it had to be an epic event to make a triumphant return. The matchmakers executed that task to perfection when they built UFC 287: Pereira vs Adesanya 2.
And when you build a card of this stature, inevitably there is going to be a shakeup in the rankings when they are released next week. Here’s a preview of what that might look like.
(C) Alex Pereira vs (No. 1) Israel Adesanya
Upside With Win: Big. Not only does he remain the champion, but one of the biggest Brazilian stars in recent history will own the distinction of being 4-0 against Israel Adesanya (twice in MMA, twice in kickboxing).
Downside With Loss: Minimal. He’ll slip into the upper reaches of the top five, but a loss would likely set up a delicious trilogy with his longtime rival.
Upside With Win: Big. One of the most dominant middleweight champions of all time would reclaim his title and continue his march towards all-time status.
Downside With Loss: Minimal. Although he’d have the first two-fight losing streak of his impressive career, he’s cleaned out most of the division ranked below him, notably No. 2 Robert Whittaker and No. 3 Marvin Vettori, both of whom he has defeated twice.
No. 5 Gilbert Burns vs No. 11 Jorge Masvidal
Upside With Win: Minimal. A win over Masvidal would likely not be enough to push him past names like Belal Muhammad and Khamzat Chimaev, but it should keep him locked in the top five for now.
Downside With Loss: Also minimal. A loss would leave an opening for rising star Shavkat Rakhmonov to take his No. 5 ranking, but Burns owns a win over the No. 7 welterweight, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Upside With Win: Huge. A win for Masvidal would end the first three-fight losing streak of his career, and catapult him closer to the men who gave him those losses: Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.
Downside With Loss: Also huge. Not only would the four-fight skid likely drop him to the lower end of the top 15, but the fan-favorite “Gamebred” hinted in his segment of UFC 287 Countdown that a loss might be enough to trigger his retirement.
No. 6 Rob Font vs No. 12 Adrian Yanez
Upside With Win: Minimal. A fight with a No. 12 fighter doesn’t do much for Font rankings-wise, but another loss by the bantamweights just above him—Petr Yan and Marlon Vera—could open the door to Font’s place in the top five.
Downside With Loss: Substantial. That would be three losses in a row for the New England Cartel star. The next ranked fighter he owns a win over is No. 10 Ricky Simon.
Upside With Win: Huge. Font is a massive step up in competition for the Texan fan-favorite, and a decisive win could have him knocking on the door of the top half of the division.
Downside With Loss: Modest. Although he doesn’t own wins over the three men below him, Yanez hasn’t lost since 2018. Any fall here wouldn’t likely be fatal.
No. 10 Michelle Waterson-Gomez vs No. 15 Luana Pinheiro
Upside With Win: Minimal. A win for “The Karate Hottie” would do little more than allow her to hold on to her current place in the top 10.
Downside With Loss: Big. A loss would be the first three-fight skid of Waterson-Gomez’s career, and five losses in six fights (albeit vs the best of the best at strawweight). The next fighter ranked below her she has a win over is No. 13 Angela Hill.
Upside With Win: Huge. In just her third UFC fight, Pinheiro would be near or in the top ten in the notoriously difficult strawweight division.
Downside With Loss: Modest. She’d slip out of the rankings, but as mentioned above, the Brazilian is just three fights into her UFC career and it’s likely the rankings panel will be considering her again in the future.