Alex Pereira shook up the Light Heavyweight ranks at UFC 291 this past month (July 29, 2023).
The former Middleweight champion was tasked with another former titleholder in the form of Poland’s Jan Blachowicz for his promotional debut at 205 pounds. Battling through some early adversity in the Salt Lake City, Utah altitude, Pereira ultimately overcame his adversary via a hard-fought split decision in the evening’s co-main event.
A big question surrounding Pereira’s move was whether or not his size and power would translate the same as it did to 185 pounds. Ahead of the match up, one-time title challenger, Anthony Smith, wasn’t too optimistic of “Poatan’s” chances at success. While still not sold on Pereira’s fear-factor translating, he was impressed, to say the least.
“I thought that Alex looked pretty good and to be fair, I thought Jan looked pretty good as well,” Smith said at UFC Singapore media day (h/t The Mac Life). “He was able to do a lot of things that Jan Blachowicz typically does to be successful. I think that Alex had a little bit of an eye-opening moment at 205 though. He’s not the large, scary monster that he was at Middleweight. He’s a fairly normal dude.
“Now, because he’s so technical and has such an incredible striking game, he’s always gonna be special,” he continued. “But in terms of just his size and power, he doesn’t stand out amongst all the 205ers and I don’t think that Alex Pereira is more powerful and explosive than an Aleksandar Rakic. He’s not stronger than a guy like [Magomed] Ankalaev. These dudes are big, powerful, hard-hitting dudes. Every single one of ‘em. Because he’s such a good striker, he’s still gonna be special, but it’s not gonna be just his power and his strength that’s gonna push him over the top anymore.”
The Blachowicz win looks to have possibly set Pereira — now the No. 3-ranked contender — up for a title shot in his new division. Smith, on the other hand, seeks a second-career win over Ryan Spann that would snap a two-fight losing skid at UFC Singapore this weekend (Sat., Aug. 26, 2023).
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