Once Israel Adesanya began to have success in the UFC, Alex Pereira’s name started to be heard in MMA circles. By that time Pereira had defended the Glory kickboxing middleweight title a few times. The reason Pereira’s name popped up regarding Adesanya was because he knocked out the current UFC middleweight champ in what was the Adesanya’s final kickboxing fight in 2017.
Pereira became a two-division Glory champion in January 2021 when he won the light heavyweight crown via split decision over Artem Vakhitov. Vakhitov took the title back from Pereira in September 2021. By that time, Pereira had a 3-1 record in MMA. The UFC signed him to a deal that same month.
Pereira made his UFC debut in November. The promotion gave the Brazilian prime placement on the UFC 268 card, putting him at the top of the prelims. Pereira rewarded the UFC with a “Performance of the Night” knockout win.
The 34-year-old returns to the octagon at UFC Vegas 50 where he opens the main card opposite Bruno Silva, who is on a seven-fight winning streak. Each of Silva’s victories during that run came via knockout. Silva is 3-0 in the UFC and has captured back-to-back “Performance of the Night” bonuses.
As Pereira was getting ready to step into the octagon for his UFC debut, commentator Joe Rogan could not praise him enough.
“This is one of the most ferocious fighters that has ever entered into the sport,” said Rogan. “He is a truly exceptional striker with ridiculous power. When I say ridiculous power, I mean one-punch smash knockout power. He knocked out Israel Adesanya with one punch with kickboxing gloves, [he] sends guys flying. He is one of the most feared strikers to ever fight in kickboxing… This man is a monster.”
Rogan is known to lay things on pretty thick and for most of the first round of Pereira’s fight against Andreas Michailidis it seemed as if Rogan might have been exaggerating Pereira’s skills. Michailidis used his clinch and grappling skills to negate the striking prowess of his opponent.
Pereira turned things around early in the second round when he landed a flying knee that put Michailidis down and out 18 seconds into the stanza.
Pereira’s opponent on Saturday has more MMA experience and he is a threat with his striking. Nineteen of Silva’s 22 career wins have come via knockout. With that being said, Silva seems to be a perfect opponent for Pereira. Yes, he has power, but he can overcommit and he sometimes get sloppy. If Silva doesn’t rein in his aggressive tendencies against Pereira he is likely to be on the wrong side of the UFC Vegas 50 post-fight highlight reel.
Pereira did not make an overture toward Adesanya after his UFC debut, but he might do so if he gets by Silva. Earlier this week, Pereira had the champ on his mind when he spoke to MMA Fighting.
Look, I’ll tell you this — it’s harder for me to get to him than beating him,” said Pereira. “He knows that. He knows how I beat him. He fought me twice. He won’t admit how difficult I am. He’s not anxious to fight me. He wants me to slip tomorrow so he can say, ‘Is this the guy you want me to fight? Are you crazy? Go back to the end of the line.’ He’ll run from me.”
“Adesanya thought he would never see me again and was comfortable,” Pereira added. “I was watching his fight [with Whittaker] and I was [predicting what he would do] based on his moves, ‘He’ll kick now, he’ll do this’. I see it, you know? I know how to beat him.”
Pereira has a long way to go to get a shot at the UFC champ, but the promotion seems eager to move him along as quickly as possible, a win over Silva will be the next step in that progression.