Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight contenders Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira will collide this weekend (Sat., July 29, 2023) at UFC 291 inside Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It’s really odd to see that Blachowicz has been getting disrespect for taking Magomed Ankalaev to a draw. After all, he fought quite well against an elite contender nearly a decade younger than him, kicking the legs off him! Then, he’s been the man in a hurry to jump back into action, putting him right back in the immediate title mix. Pereira, meanwhile, continues to waste no time in his MMA career. This will be his tenth pro fight, and the kickboxing champion has already scored a UFC belt in one division. Now, he’s likely fighting in a title eliminator in his new divisional debut! “Poatan” isn’t playing around, and he has a real chance here.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Israel Adesanya (UFC 259), Dominick Reyes (UFC 253), Aleksandar Rakic (UFC Vegas 54), Corey Anderson (UFC Fight Night 167), Luke Rockhold (UFC 239), Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 136), Jared Cannonier (UFC on FOX 26), Ronaldo Souza (UFC Fight Night 164)
Key Losses: Glover Teixeira (UFC 267), Thiago Santos (UFC Fight Night 145), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC Fight Night 93), Corey Anderson (UFC 191)
Keys to Victory: Every time I write one of these articles and list the highlights on Jan Blachowicz’s resume, I implore readers to read over it again. He’s fought EVERYONE! It’s really remarkable how far Blachowicz has developed from the man who lost to Patrick Cummins — he’s simply unrecognizable.
I don’t mean to imply that Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya are the same fighter, but Blachowicz’s approach to them should be roughly the same. Pereira may be more powerful and more of a combination puncher than “Stylebender” and his tricky range kicking, but the general strategy of staying defensively sound, competing on the feet, then wrestling is a good plan.
There remains no evidence that Pereira’s takedown defense is particularly good. There’s certainly no evidence that it’s any good at 205 pounds! Blachowicz represents an entirely different challenge from past Pereira opponents, and he should take advantage by maximizing his entire MMA game.
Ideally, that means standing his ground a bit with the knockout artist, then changing levels and flooring him for good.
Key Wins: Israel Adesanya (UFC 281), Sean Strickland (UFC 276), Bruno Silva (UFC Vegas 50), Andres Michalidis (UFC 268)
Key Losses: Israel Adesanya (UFC 287)
Keys to Victory: Pereira is quite debatably the best striker in the sport. A wildly powerful kickboxer with an incredible eye for creating massive collisions, Pereira is a brutal knockout artist in any size of gloves.
Obviously, keeping this fight standing is going to be a huge priority for the Brazilian. Given his size and experience, Blachowicz is definitely the most dangerous grappling threat he’s faced, and all of Pereira’s striking mastery means little from bottom position.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment necessary may be Pereira’s stance. “Poatan” likes to use his presence to pressure opponents, standing over them and getting in their face. This stance also has him leaning back to avoid shots and/or throw his left hook, but fight fans may remember Blachowicz timing Adesanya’s own lead back to score his double legs.
Keeping a good base at all times will be essential, as will maintaining good cage position will greatly help in avoiding takedowns. Otherwise, it would be wise for Pereira to make it a point to counter kicks with combinations, lest Blachowicz claim another shin bone for his mantle.
This is very likely a title eliminator.
Blachowicz is a former champion who just fought for the belt, and he didn’t even lose that fight! He deserves to be in the immediate title picture, even if having a 40-year-old champion isn’t an idea UFC loves. If successful here, Blachowicz should be one half of the next vacant title fight, likely against Jiri Prochazka.
Speaking of “BJP,” is there a more delightful title match up imaginable than Prochazka vs. Pereira? It’s such an easy sell! If “Poatan” is victorious here, he will find himself in a title fight sooner than later, regardless of his newness to Light Heavyweight. If everything really lines up perfectly, a fifth fight versus Adesanya with a different title on the line would be gigantic.
At UFC 291, Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira will face off in the co-main event. Which man earns the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 291 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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