Alex Pereira Saw Opening for Head Kick While Watching Video of Prochazka’s Warmup

July 1, 2024
Alex Pereira is a champion who pays attention to the little things.

“Poatan” made his second successful light heavyweight title defense at UFC 303 on Saturday, when he dropped Jiri Prochazka with a head kick and sealed his victory with follow-up punches 13 seconds into Round 2 of their rematch at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. As it turns out, Pereira saw an opening for the fight-ending maneuver while watching his footage of his opponent’s warmup.

“I was in the locker room talking to Plinio, one my coaches, and he showed me the video of Jiri warming up. I saw he was trying to counter attack the calf kick, defend and counter,” Pereira said through a translator at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I told Plinio he was doing the wrong timing, the timing was not good. So I saw that he was too focused on not taking that kick and he was keeping his hands down and leaving the head exposed. So I told him, I’m going to explore the high kick.”

Clearly, that exploration paid major dividends. However, in the immediate aftermath of the finish, Pereira appeared to be adjusting his toes, which led to speculation that the Brazilian had suffered an injury. While that was an initial concern, he believes he emerged from the fight in relatively good health.

“Nothing with my toes. The top of my foot I thought I had hurt a little bit,” he said. “Compared to other fights that I had, by now I should be limping and everything. It feels fine. I’m good.”

Pereira and Prochazka agreed to take to rematch on short notice after Conor McGregor withdrew from the originally scheduled UFC 303 headliner. “Poatan” proved that he made the right decision to step in and help save the event.

“When this fight got offered two weeks ago, many people said that it was not the right choice to take the fight,” Pereira said. “But I saw an opportunity. I trained hard to prepare for this, I stuck with the strategy. A lot of people saw me driving super cars in Australia, they started talking a lot of stuff. I said [Friday], If I was not training, [Saturday] it’s gonna show.”

With the victory, Pereira became just the seventh fighter in UFC history to use four different methods of strikes to finish a fight. While he didn’t notice anything new from his opponent, Pereira is still relatively new to the sport, which means there’s still room to grow.

“No, nothing new on my end,” Pereira said. “I think I’m still in the process of evolution of MMA, I keep evolving a lot. He’s a guy that is older, been training for longer, so he probably [knew] things a lot better, but not now.”

With victories over Prochazka (twice), Jamahal Hill and Jan Blachowicz, Pereira has bested many of the top fighters in the light heavyweight division. One notable exception is Magomed Ankalev, who is 10-0-1 with one no contest in his last 12 Octagon appearance. Ankalaev issued a callout to Pereira after Saturday’s fight.

“Congratulations champ, I’m very impressed but the boss [Dana White] always says this is the sport of opportunities and all I want is an opportunity,” Ankalaev wrote on X. “And I don’t need wrestling. I have enough striking to test your chin. I believe I will knock you out.

“[Two] years ago, [Alex Pereira] was not ready to fight me, but I believe today he is the hardest fight in the division for me, and I’m the hardest fight in the division for him.”

Pereira seemed open to the possibility when it was presented to him at the press conference.

“Everybody deserves, but I’m not the guy to ask,” Pereira said. “You’ve got to talk to Dana White.”

During his post-fight interview in the cage, Pereira also addressed a potential move to heavyweight. However, this decision is not something that will come on short notice.

“For heavyweight is something I’ve got to be prepared, so I don’t know. You guys saw that I took this fight on two week’s notice,” he said. “For heavyweight is something that’s got to be more planned. Right now I’m just focused on defending my title.”


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