The only man to ever knock out Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya has signed a contract with the UFC. Glory kickboxer Alex Pereira posted a video on Instagram confirming that he has officially signed a deal with the MMA organization.
“Poatan” Pereira wrote in Portugese, “Hey guys, now it’s official! @ufc thank you very much, I am very happy to be part of this family.” The Brazilian-born fighter now trains out of Teixeira MMA & Fitness in Danbury, Connecticut, under UFC Light Heavyweight title contender Glover Teixeira and Caio Magalhães. Teixeira, who will challenge Jan Blachowicz for the championship at UFC 267 on October 30, shared Pereira’s contract-signing video and wrote, “Let the games begin,” on Instagram.
Pereira knocked out Adesanya in a Glory kickboxing fight in Brazil on March 4, 2017. He also defeated Adesanya by unanimous decision in their first meeting in Glory on April 2, 2016.
The 34-year-old Pereira, who is from São Paulo, Brazil, holds a record of 33-7, with 21 knockouts, in his kickboxing career, which began in 2012. He left Glory with its Middleweight Championship, but lost his final bout, losing his Light Heavyweight title at Glory 78 to Artem Vakhitov by split decision on September 4, 2021. Pereira entered that fight knowing it would be his final bout in Glory before heading to the UFC, with his debut match in the MMA giant already scheduled, according to BJPenn.com’s Alfredo Zullino, who first broke the news.
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Alex Pereira Is Scheduled for a Debut Fight Against Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268 on November 6, 2021
Alex Pereira will make his UFC debut in the 185-pound middleweight division at UFC 268 on November 6, 2021, under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden in New York City, BJPenn.com’s Zullino reported. He will fight Andreas Michailidis. The 33-year-old Greek fighter has a 1-1 record in the UFC, losing his debut fight by knockout to Modestas Bukauskas in 2020 and beating KB Bhullar by decision in May 2021. His fight against Bukauskas was in the light heavyweight division.
Pereira has had MMA fights before. He knocked out Thomas Powell with a left hook 4 minutes into a November 2020 fight at Legacy Fighting Alliance 95, in his first fight in the LFA organization.
Pereira lost his MMA debut by rear-naked choke to Quemuel Ottoni at Jungle Fight 82 in Brazil in October 2015. He then won his next two MMA fights, defeating Marcelo Cruz by knockout at Jungle Fight 85 in January 2016 and stopping Marcus Vinicius Fialho da Silveira with punches at Jungle Fight 87 in May 2016.
He was scheduled to appear on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, but Glory did not allow him to compete in the UFC event, according to Sherdog.
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Adesanya’s Coach Says He Got Knocked Out Because He Didn’t Stick to His Gameplan
Adesanya’s coach at City Kickboxing in New Zealand, Eugene Bareman, said during an appearance on “The Fight With Teddy Atlas” podcast in October 2020 that Adesanya went away from his mental toughness in the knockout loss to Pereira.
“There’s only been one time in Israel’s career where he went away from that toughness. And he decided to go towards the other type of toughness, and that’s the only fight and the only time he’s been knocked out completely. And that was because the fight before that he had a very close decision loss that most people thought he won and then we faced an opponent that we also many years before lost a very close decision to,” Bareman said on the podcast. “So instead of backing that toughness that you’re talking about, the toughness of discipline, of sticking to a game plan, he decided he would be tough and try to exchange with this guy and make the result definitive.”
Bareman added, “And we were winning that fight right up to the last 30 seconds. We had him going back, but because Israel took that different mentality on, he got caught with a left hook. And that’s the only fight he’s ever lost by KO.”
During a back-and-forth with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones in April 2020, Adesanya responded to a fought of him receiving oxygen after being knocked out by Pereira by saying to Jones, tweeting, “I been ko’d once and I never made that mistake again.”
The 32-year-old Adesanya last fought in June 2021, beating Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision at UFC 263 to defend his Middleweight Championship. He also fought on March 6, 2021, losing a decision to Blachowicz while stepping up a weight class to challenge for the Light Heavyweight title. Adesanya is not currently scheduled for a fight. Former Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker, who has a three-fight win streak since dropping the belt to Adesanya, is rumored to be the next challenger. But two other streaking fighters, Derek Brunson and Jared Cannonier, are also in the mix.
Pereira Has Said He Doesn’t Think Adesanya Wants to Face Him Again & He Thinks He Would Knock Him Out if They Did Fight in the UFC
Pereira told BJPenn.com in October 2020 that he doesn’t think Adesanya wants to fight him again in the UFC after coming up short in their two kickboxing bouts. He said, “I fought Adesanya twice and I know how dangerous he is. He’s tough, very smart, agile, a complete fighter as a kickboxer, and in MMA. … “I don’t think Adesanya would be interested in that fight. I beat him twice and I’m the only man to KO him. We never know what the future holds. It could happen someday.”
He told MMAJunkie in 2019 that he thinks he could knockout the UFC champion again. “For the sport of MMA, Adesanya is one of the best strikers in the sport, but for kickboxing, he is like many others – a guy that’s good, but over a long time didn’t evolve,” he told the website. “I’m not criticizing Adesanya. I know that when you go to MMA, it’s normal that your striking, due to the wholeness of the game, it downgrades a little bit. I’m sure when I go to MMA, my striking is also going to go down a little bit, so maybe that’s what happened to Adesanya, too.”
He added, “We all know that there are MMA fans and kickboxing fans, but nobody likes to just watch grinding. Everybody definitely enjoys seeing knockouts. With kickboxing, you already know the knockout is going to happen, and by the way I’m fighting, I’m looking for the knockout every second of the fight. There’s no better reason to watch than just to see the bodies hit the floor.”
Pereira isn’t the only kickboxer with a win over Adesanya making the move to MMA recently. Jason Wilnis, a 30-year-old Dutch kickboxer who bet Adesanya by unanimous decision in Glory in 2017, made his MMA debut at in the Adesanya Netherlands on July 26, 2021, knocking out in the first round.
Ahead of the fight, Wilnis told MMAJunkie he hopes to reach Bellator or the UFC and said about Adesanya, “I’ve seen his rise through the UFC and I would be lying if I didn’t say that was somewhat of a motivation for me. But my thoughts on MMA started before him. If I get to the UFC and our paths cross, I would fight him again for sure. However, I am on my own journey, and I would not say fighting him is a particular goal of mine.”
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