5 Key Moments: Alex Pereira

UFC
April 11, 2024
As the Ultimate Fighting Championship venue lights dim, the haunting strains of Sepultura’s “Itsari” fills the air, its cadence reverberating through the arena.

“Poatan” emerges from the tunnel, his trademark skip-step setting a rhythmic prelude, as he conjures an imaginary bow and arrow that metaphorically strikes at the heart of the Octagon. With that, the stage is set.

UFC light heavyweight king Alex Pereira has traversed a remarkable trajectory in the realm of mixed martial arts from being initially recognized as the formidable foe who vanquished former UFC 185-pound champion Israel Adesanya in their kickboxing encounters. Following his dual triumphs over Adesanya in kickboxing, Pereira replicated the triumphs in only his eighth professional MMA bout, clinching the UFC middleweight strap with a resounding fifth-round technical knockout victory over “The Last Stylebender” at UFC 281.

Fast forward to a year and a half later, and “Poatan” now stands tall as the reigning 205-pound king, having cemented his position as a beloved figure in the sport. His innate charisma, coupled with his understated hilarity on social media and the proud representation of his indigenous heritage from the Pataxo tribe, have endeared him to global recognition. Now, as the calendar flips to the grand spectacle that is UFC 300 this Saturday in Las Vegas, the Brazilian aims to further strengthen his legacy, as he steps into the spotlight to take on Jamahal Hill in the headliner of the historic event.

Ahead of Pereira’s latest appearance, a look at five defining moments of his career that shaped him into the formidable combatant he embodies now:

1. A Kickboxing Legacy and Glory Bound

Pereira, to this day, remains the only fighter to have held titles in two weight classes simultaneously in Glory, the world’s premier kickboxing organization. The Brazilian’s illustrious track record there includes seizing victory in the esteemed Glory 14 middleweight title contender tournament, claiming the prestigious mantle of Glory middleweight champ, holding the record for the most title defenses in the organization’s divisional history and ascending to legendary status as the light heavyweight champion. In 2023, Pereira became the third fighter to be inducted into the Glory Kickboxing Hall of Fame, having posted a record of 12-4 in the promotion before transitioning to MMA.

2. Knock, Knock: A New Contender in the Mix

Having posted a 3-1 record since making his professional MMA debut in October 2015, Pereira went on to make his UFC debut against Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268. Competing in the closing bout of the preliminary card, Pereira engaged in a prudent strategy in the first round, as Michailidis pressured him and looked to take him down. The Greek fighter secured a takedown and controlled Pereira against the cage, but he failed to mount a significant offense. However, in a mere 18 seconds of the next frame, Pereira launched into action with a stunning flying knee and followed up with a couple of ground-and-pound shots to finish the fight. The message echoed with clarity: A fresh contender had emerged in the 185-pound bracket.

3. Punching His Way to a Title Shot

Pereira was an unranked fighter when he took on then No. 5-ranked Sean Strickland at UFC 276. With the event’s spotlight firmly fixed on his archrival, Adesanya, who headlined the event as the 185-pound king, Pereira’s objective loomed clear: Make an emphatic statement through his performance to capture the attention of the champ. Deliver he did. As the first round progressed, it was mostly contested in a calculated manner. Pereira seized the opportune moment to land his thunderous left hook that staggered Strickland. As “Tarzan” attempted to regain his footing, the Brazilian attacked again with a stifling right hand, securing the victory at the 2:36 mark of the first round.

4. A Pioneering Victory and Maiden Crown

In his maiden shot at UFC gold against Adesanya at UFC 281, Pereira was trailing on the scorecards before he pulled off a sensational upset that would go down in history as the latest knockout in a UFC middleweight title match. For four rounds, Adesanya orchestrated a meticulous game plan, even managing to hurt his rival at the end of a round that barely breached the buzzer. Pereira, recognizing that he was behind on the scorecards, made an aggressive push, capitalized on a momentary lapse in Adesanya’s defense and launched a relentless assault on his trapped foe. He rained down a flurry of unanswered powerful blows that left Adesanya no avenue to escape, prompting the referee to halt the contest at the 2:01 mark of the final round.

5. Echoes of Greatness

Following his unsuccessful bid to defend the freshly minted championship against Adesanya at UFC 287, Periera decided to make the 205-pound division his new home. After banking a split decision win over Jan Blachowicz, “Poatan” squared off against Jiri Prochazka at UFC 295 for the vacant title. The Brazilian scored an emphatic Round 2 stoppage win over the Czech standout with a counter left hook, doing so with his back against the fence as Prochazka tried to pressure forward. As Prochazka attempted to evade the Brazilian’s assault by holding on to a double leg attempt, Pereira unleashed a relentless onslaught of elbows that sent his opponent crumbling to the canvas momentarily, prompting the referee to step in and call a stop to the contest. With that win, Pereira achieved the status of the shortest time and fewest bouts to win championships in two divisions in UFC history.

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/5-Defining-Moments-Alex-Pereira-193285

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