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History for Pereira: What’s Next?

In just 11 professional MMA fights, Alex Pereira has become a two division UFC champion.  This accomplishment alone marks a wildly successful career.  Some of the world’s most talented fighters have failed to become a champion in even one division.  Alex’s budding UFC run has already breathed tremendous life into both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

Ranked in top 5 after UFC 295. Image – The Economic Times – India Times

In just his second fight at light heavyweight, Alex faced a dangerous Jiri Prochazka.  Jiri caught Alex with powerful strikes and took him down in round 1.  Although Alex struggled to figure out Jiri’s unorthodox style, he remained defensively responsible throughout the fight.  He also used his signature leg kicks to great effect.  In the final exchange, Jiri actually caught Alex with a powerful cross.  However, Alex found his window of opportunity and caught Jiri with two sharp hooks.  Although some questioned the stoppage initially, this controversy has seemingly subsided.  In the meantime, the new champion has exciting opportunities to look forward to.

The most obvious challenge comes from Jamahal Hill, the former light heavyweight champion who vacated due to injury.  Both fighters are powerful strikers, and the fight would bring some much needed unity to the light heavyweight title.  Although Alex has the more decorated striking background, Jamahal has enjoyed a fast rise to the top.  Pereira has shown some defensive openings in his fights, and a clean shot from Jamahal could very well end the fight.

Jamahal Hill, image – Bleacher Report

In his post fight interview, Alex called out former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.  Although most in the community have dismissed the idea, the fight would benefit both parties.  Israel has given Alex his most recent loss.  The two have a longstanding rivalry spanning across both kickboxing and mixed martial arts.  For Israel, a title shot at light heavyweight presents a lucrative opportunity, especially having lost the belt again at middleweight.  The two fights they have had in the UFC have clearly delivered in terms of excitement and striking acumen.  

Adesanya v Pereira, UFC 281. Image – Sporting News


Despite Alex’s outstanding accomplishments in the UFC thus far, he still has yet to defend one of his titles.  From a skillset perspective, his striking technique gives him the ability to finish anyone.  That said, he is not untouchable on the feet by any means.  Furthermore, despite his improvements, his grappling remains an obvious weakness, especially at 205 pounds.  His story so far has been thrilling to watch, but the most intriguing chapters are still ahead for “Poatan.”

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