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‘He used jiu-jitsu to survive’ - Alex Pereira earns BJJ brown belt after UFC 281 title win

Apart from his gold shiny belt from Saturday night, UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira also moved up the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ladder.

Middleweight champ Alex Pereira attempts a leg lock on Israel Adesanya during their UFC 281 title fight.
Middleweight champ Alex Pereira attempts a leg lock on Israel Adesanya during their UFC 281 title fight.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Alex Pereira ended UFC 281 with a gold belt wrapped around his waist after a fifth-round TKO win over Israel Adesanya. Upon his return to the gym after the fight, “Poatan” was also awarded a new belt, this time to signify his ascent in the ranks of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In a video posted by MMA correspondent Ariel Helwani, Pereira was given his brown belt by his coach Plinio Cruz, who lauded the newly-crowned champion for using jiu-jitsu “to survive.”

“You guys don’t know, Alex once competed in jiu-jitsu back in the day,” Plinio said in the video above (transcript by MMA Mania). “He was being trained to submit every fight. As you guys know, he’s an MMA fighter, now the best fighter on the planet, beating one of the best fighters of all time.

“But, you guys know Alex’s been following jiu-jitsu, too. He’s showing improvement, he’s showing respect, he’s showing he’s hungry to learn because it’s mixed martial arts, not only kickboxing.

“So, with that said, if you guys saw that fight Saturday ... takedowns, sweeps, leg locks, almost like a real jiu-jitsu guy,” he continued. “But the main part of jiu-jitsu is not about submitting. It’s not about winning. It’s about surviving. And under the most hard circumstances, he used jiu-jitsu to survive.

“He survived and in the end, he stood on his feet and knocked the guy out. That takes a very high-level guy in the head, in the heart, in the technique. Because of that, I believe and our coaches believe that we want to reward him with a brown belt.”

The 35-year-old Pereira is now 3-0 against Adesanya as he improves to a pro-MMA record of 7-1.