Alex Pereira made his UFC Light Heavyweight debut on Saturday night (July 29, 2023) inside Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, taking a split decision victory over Jan Blachowicz (see scorecard here). While the fight was close, it was still an impressive performance: Pereira hung with a former 205-pound champion who handily beat Israel Adesanya when “The Last Stylebender” attempted to make the same move up from Middleweight.
The dream scenario in our mind would be for Pereira to take the vacant Light Heavyweight title and then fight Adesanya in a “Champion vs. Champion” bout. Best laid plans rarely work out all that well, though. As far as “Poatan” is concerned, he has a simpler plan for an Adesanya UFC trilogy fight that he laid out at UFC 291’s post-fight press conference.
“Before my last fight happened, when I made weight I told the guys that I was going to be for now taking a break from the weight class due to it was getting a little harder to cut in a short span of time,” Pereira said through a translator. “So, I went up to Light Heavyweight now, but 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, Middleweight.
“Because on my mind is we [Adesanya and Pereira] are 1-1 at Middleweight,” he continued. “I won one at Middleweight, Israel won the other one. So nothing more fair than a trilogy at Middleweight.”
Pereira seemed unsure about getting a shot at the currently vacant 205-pound title.
“I don’t know,” he replied when asked about fighting for the belt. “I do think that Jan was the toughest in the division. He’s a former champion and a very dangerous guy, as everyone can see. So whoever they put, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m here to do my work and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to train to give a show and come out with the win.”
“I feel good, I feel energized,” he said. “Recharged compared to the last 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.”
Adesanya hasn’t publicly commented on Pereira’s win in Salt Lake City (update: now he has!), but he did like a tweet from Conor McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, criticizing “Poatan” and his massive weight cuts.
“Not sure what solution is but sad to see fighting being a lot about who can lose and gain 20lbs pre and post weigh in,” Kavanagh wrote. “The focus should be fighting skills.”
For complete UFC 291 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.