Prefers it happening at middleweight, not light heavyweight
Alex Pereira has unfinished business with Israel Adesanya – at middleweight, reports Farah Hannoun and Ken Hathaway for the Miami Herald.
Pereira made good in his light heavyweight debut when he edged out Jan Blachowicz in this past Saturday’s UFC 291 co-main event. He expects to be fighting for the vacant 205-pound title next.
“Poatan” is 1-1 with middleweight champion Adesanya, who evened the score by knocking him out at UFC 287 in April. When asked if the rubber match would take place at Pereira’s new weight class, the former champion said he plans on dropping back down to middleweight to complete his trilogy with Adesanya.
“Before my last fight happened, when I made weight, I told the guys that for now I was going to be taking a break from the weight class,” Pereira told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter at the UFC 291 post-fight news conference. “It was getting hard a little bit – too many cuts in a short span of time. So I went up to light heavyweight now.
“I want to do one more fight at light heavyweight, take some time from all those cuts, and then I actually want to fight in the lower weight class again – middleweight. In my mind, we are 1-1 at middleweight. I won one at middleweight, Israel won the other one, so nothing more fair than making the trilogy at middleweight.”
Although making 185 pounds wasn’t easy for Pereira, “Poatan” insists middleweight is still part of his plans.
“I feel good,” Pereira said. “I feel energized, recharged compared to the last other few weight cuts. This one was only 20 to 30 percent compared to the other ones. But like I said, I just need a little break to rest a little bit and I’m going to do some unfinished business at middleweight.”
Meanwhile, Farah Hannoun reports that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya approves of Alex Pereira’s performance at UFC 291.
Pereira (8-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) was successful in his light heavyweight debut when he edged out former champion Jan Blachowicz (29-10-1 MMA, 12-7-1 UFC) in this past Saturday’s co-headliner in Salt Lake City.
Adesanya gave a live reaction to Pereira’s performance while watching the fight, and praised him for his improved takedown defense.
“Beautiful try, but the boy got long legs man,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I’m telling you, he doesn’t want any space because once you give him space, he going to touch you. Beautiful defense. Good way to not balance himself – corrected it. Good lad.”
Israel Adesanya Reacts to INSANE UFC 291 Pay Per View
Pereira was taken down and controlled in Round 1, but was able to fend off Blachowicz’s dangerous rear-naked choke attempt. He rallied in Round 2 to win the striking exchanges against a tired Blachowicz, and managed to do enough to squeak out the win in a close third round.
All in all, Adesanya agreed with the result, and thought his former foe did well in his new division. He expects Pereira to earn the next crack at the vacant light heavyweight belt.
“Alex won – looked good at light heavyweight. Also, elevation – we have to consider that as well,” Adesanya said. “Crafty from Jan. He did the right thing to try and sneak the victory, but wasn’t enough. Alex now vs. Jiri (Prochazka) probably for the belt, I’m going to assume.”