Some UFC fans will still express a certain amount of shock at Alex Pereira’s unexpected middleweight championship title loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287. Others would argue it was simply a matter of time before the tables turned following their previous meets in both kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts itself.
Alex Pereira Changes Plans
Having been beaten three times in succession, Adesanya exacted the ultimate revenge over Pereira by knocking him out in their last Miami based clash, but after there were well stated concerns about his comfort in making the middleweight limit at the time – whilst utterly denying those accusations – this week the 35 year old Sao Paulo born Brazilian officially confirmed that he was, for the immediate future at least, making the switch to the light heavyweight division and transitioning to 205 pounds.
Light Heavyweight is Pereira’s New Decision
His decision obviously brings an end to the talk of a more immediate rubber with Adesanya which many fans are now craving, but in somewhat predictable style, he did heavy hint that a match up could (or even definitely would) take place in the future.
Betting markets and odds compilers will not have appreciated that news as a quick rematch would have been very well received, and undoubtedly comparative odds would have been lapped up by those who like a flutter. Instead major US betting apps and punters will have to look at the unknown and judge his odds at a new level.
Speaking in Portuguese in a recent YouTube video release which was kindly translated by MMA Fighting, he explained.
“Many people questioned [my weight] but I always went there and fulfilled my obligation, but now is a great moment to move up a division. You see Adesanya’s post-fight provocations, he treats this win like it’s 3-1 for him and it’s not quite like that. I understand his joy – or try to understand it – it was his dream to win once against me and he’s done it, but let’s see what his behaviour is now.”
Speaking further about Adesanya and the possibility of a more instant rematch, he went on to say.
“I’m moving up a division now, and that’s my decision, but I’m sure that if I stayed in this division I can could fight him immediately. Let’s see how he behaves. I’m not going up because I can’t make the weight anymore. I can make the weight at any moment. He’s behaving like that because Dana White talked about my weight right after the fight and it looks like he thinks, ‘This guy will never make 185 again so I’ll provoke him and there’s nothing he can do’. I’m sure I could fight him immediately if I insisted on this, the organization and my managers would make this fight.”
Having been a two division Glory kickboxing champion and elite striker who dabbled with Mixed Martial Arts prior to signing full time with the UFC back in November of 2021, his impact in the sport was pretty immediate, as when knocking out Adesanya to earn the UFC middleweight championship – it was only his fourth official UFC fight, and only his eighth overall in MMA.
Moving to light middleweight is clearly an obvious progression when you take away this unexpected controversy, and there are plenty of lucrative and testing match ups he can now enjoy – but many will note that this is probably not his only, if not main, driver for the move.
There is the potential for a small revenge tour if, and when, he faces reigning light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill and former champ Jiri Prochazka – as they were the last two men to better Glover Teixeira, Pereira’s mentor.
There could be some fireworks ahead before he even cycles back to Adesanya.