5 defining moments: Alex Pereira (2024)

storyApril 10, 2024anunci


As the lights dim at the Ultimate Fighting Championship venue, the haunting sounds of Sepultura's “Itsari” resonate throughout the arena. “Poatan” emerges from the tunnel, his signature leaping step providing the rhythmic prelude as he conjures an imaginary bow and arrow that metaphorically strikes at the heart of the octagon. This sets the stage.

UFC light heavyweight king Alex Pereira has had a remarkable evolution in mixed martial arts after initially being considered the fearsome opponent who defeated former UFC 185-pound champion Israel Adesanya in his kickboxing bouts. Following his two triumphs over Adesanya in kickboxing, Pereira repeated the triumphs in just his eighth professional MMA fight, capturing the UFC middleweight title with a stunning fifth-round technical knockout victory over “The Last Stylebender” at UFC 281.

A year and a half later, “Poatan” is now the reigning 205-pound king and has cemented his position as a popular figure in the sport. His innate charisma, coupled with his understated cheerfulness on social media and proud display of his indigenous heritage from the Pataxo tribe, have earned him global recognition. Now, as the calendar turns to the big spectacle of UFC 300 this Saturday in Las Vegas, the Brazilian is looking to further strengthen his legacy by stepping into the spotlight to headline the historic event against Jamahal Hill.

Ahead of Pereira's latest performance, a look at five defining moments in his career that shaped him into the formidable fighter he is now:

1. A legacy and glory in kickboxing

To date, Pereira is the only fighter to have held titles in two weight classes simultaneously with Glory, the world's leading kickboxing organization. The Brazilian's glorious track record there includes victory in the prestigious Glory 14 middleweight title contender tournament, capturing the prestigious title of Glory Middleweight Champion, holding the record for the most title defenses in the organization's divisional history and promotion to legendary status as a light heavyweight champion. In 2023, Pereira became the third fighter inducted into the Glory Kickboxing Hall of Fame after compiling a record of 12-4 in the promotion before switching to MMA.

2. Knock, Knock: A new contender in the mix

After compiling a 3-1 record since his professional MMA debut in October 2015, Pereira subsequently made his UFC debut against Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268. In the final bout of the preliminary card, Pereira employed a prudent strategy in the first round, when Michailidis pressured him and tried to take him down. The Greek fighter secured a takedown and controlled Pereira against the cage, but failed to mount any significant offense. But just 18 seconds into the next frame, Pereira launched with a stunning flying knee and followed up with a few ground-and-pound punches to end the fight. The message was clear: a new contender had emerged in the 185-pound class.

3. Make your way to the title shot

Pereira was an unranked fighter when he faced then-ranked No. 5 Sean Strickland at UFC 276. With the event's focus firmly on his arch-rival Adesanya, who topped the event as 185-pound king, Pereira's goal was clear: Make an emphatic statement through his performance to catch the champion's attention. He delivered. As the first round progressed, it was largely a calculated affair. Pereira seized the opportune moment to land his thunderous left hook that left Strickland reeling. As “Tarzan” tried to regain his footing, the Brazilian attacked again with a crushing right hand and secured the victory at 2:36 minutes of the first round.

4. A breakthrough victory and a virgin crown

In his first attempt to win UFC gold against Adesanya at UFC 281, Pereira was behind in the points tally before pulling off a sensational upset that would go down in history as the youngest knockout in a UFC middleweight title fight. For four rounds, Adesanya devised a meticulous game plan and even managed to hurt his rival at the end of a round that barely broke the buzzer. Realizing he was behind on the scorecards, Pereira made an aggressive push, exploiting a brief gap in Adesanya's defense and launching a relentless attack on his trapped opponent. He rained down a barrage of unanswered, powerful punches that left Adesanya with no way out, prompting the referee to stop the fight at 2:01 minutes of the final round.

5. Echoes of Greatness

After his unsuccessful attempt to defend his newly won championship against Adesanya at UFC 287, Periera decided to make the 205-pound class his new home. After a split decision win over Jan Blachowicz, “Poatan” faced Jiri Prochazka for the vacant title at UFC 295. The Brazilian scored a convincing second-round stoppage win over the Czech standout with a counter left hook with his back to the fence as Prochazka tried to press forward. As Prochazka tried to evade the Brazilian's attack by blocking a double leg attempt, Pereira unleashed a relentless elbow attack that briefly dropped his opponent to the canvas, prompting the referee to intervene and stop the fight. With this victory, Pereira achieved the status of having the shortest time and fewest fights to win championships in two divisions in UFC history.

5 defining moments: Alex Pereira (2024)
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