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Alex Pereira demands shot at UFC title, but split decision win over Jan Blachowicz may get ‘Poatan’ passed over

Alex Pereira is demanding a shot at the light heavyweight title.

To his credit, “Poatan” defeated No. 3-ranked contender and former 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz in the UFC 291 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event last Sat. night (July 29, 2023) at Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. That said, the split decision victory did not come easy, thanks to the Pole’s suffocating ground game and resilient beard.

And a handful of popular media outlets scored the bout in favor of Blachowicz.

“It was a very hard fight but I think I was able to show you guys a bit of my ground, so be patient my friends because I will show it all soon,” Pereira, 36, told Joe Rogan. “My focus is always the belt. We had conversations before with the organization about the belt. Now I want to fight for the belt, it doesn’t matter against who.”

The crown is currently missing a king.

Jamahal Hill recently shredded his Achilles tendon and was forced to relinquish the light heavyweight strap, a situation not unlike the Jiri Prochazka injury that vacated the title last December. Prevailing wisdom had the winner of Pereira vs. Blachowicz fighting Prochazka for all the marbles at some point later this year, but promotion officials never made any guarantees regarding the future of the 205-pound strap.

Can’t say I blame them after this fiasco.

“Right now, I’m focused on this division,” Pereira continued. “I want to be a champion in this division and then I have some business to solve [at middleweight]. It was awesome, it was almost 20 pounds less to cut so it made a big difference. I’ve been putting in the work, I’ve been training hard. I train with Glover Teixeira, a former light heavyweight champion, so I’m just going to keep my work and not change nothing.”

I think a devastating, lights-out finish for either fighter would have probably sealed the deal, but Pereira was coming off a knockout loss at middleweight and needed to prove his mettle in the higher weight class, especially with No. 2-ranked Magomed Ankalaev patiently waiting for his shot at the division title. No. 4-ranked Aleksander Rakic is also lurking in the Top 5, ready to return from his injury layoff.

“Hey UFC, I’m hungry — give me work to do,” Ankalaev wrote last May. “Jan Blachowicz, if you’re ready for another fight, show signs of life! If not, I’ll be more than happy to welcome Pereira to the new weight division and show that there are different levels in this game!”

It’s probably going to take a few weeks for matchmakers to sort through some of the clutter and find out which fighters are available, recovery timelines, etc., before deciding on a pair of contenders worthy of battling for the 205-pound belt. Pereira (8-2) is certainly in the mix, but after his performance at UFC 291, I would hardly consider him a lock.

For compete UFC 291 results and live play-by-play click here.

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