‘He’s gonna have problems at 205’ — Former UFC title challenger reacts to Alex Pereira joining light heavyweight 

Anthony Smith welcomes Alex Pereira to his weight class, but expects the latter to struggle.

By: Kristen King | 1 month ago
‘He’s gonna have problems at 205’ — Former UFC title challenger reacts to Alex Pereira joining light heavyweight 
Alex Pereira at weigh-ins for UFC 287 in April 7, 2023 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Anthony Smith sees Alex Pereira struggling in his move from middleweight to light heavyweight. A loss to Israel Adesanya led to Pereira announcing a switch in weight class, something he thought was a ‘great option’ for him in his next fight. 

“I’m going up because it’s my option, and I talked to my team, and they think as well it’s a great option for me, so I’m going up,” said Pereira. “I’m not going up because I can’t make the weight anymore. I will always be able to make 185.”

Anthony Smith discusses Alex Pereira’s move to 205

Though Pereira found success against elite competition at middleweight, Smith says he may not find it at light heavyweight, especially since he has given up one of his advantages: size. 

“It is what it is — it’s just another dude,” said Smith in a recent interview with James Lynch of LowKick MMA. “I think he’s gonna have problems at 205. He’s a monster light heavyweight. Like, put that dude next to Aleksandar Rakić and Rakić will make him look tiny. He’s just a regular-sized 205er in the top seven or eight. Obviously, I’m a little bit on the smaller side compared to some of those guys. Jan Blachowicz is big, Jiří Procházka is big, Jamahal Hill is big, Magomed Ankalaev is big, Aleksandar Rakić is absolutely huge. [Pereira’s] size was a huge advantage at 185. 

“I think he’s great, I think he’s a fantastic striker,” continued Smith. “There’s more grapplers and guys that are willing — I guess I can’t really say that because there’s a lot of grapplers at 185, too, but just none that he ran into. I think everyone — like, Ankalaev can grapple. [Ankalaev] would get the takedown, it’s just if Pereira can get up safely. That’s the issue. Ankalaev will get the takedown on Pereira.”

Anthony Smith suggests opponent for Pereira’s 205-debut

UFC president Dana White has yet to announce a potential opponent for Pereira, but he did say the promotion was hoping to get him a ‘real guy’ in his new weight class. ‘Po Atan’ has set his sights on a future fight with reigning UFC light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill, but White said Pereira has to ‘beat someone’ before being considered for a championship opportunity. 

For Smith, that someone should be Aleksandar Rakić, a fellow top-five UFC contender who is expected to return to the Octagon at some point. 

“Honestly, I would rather see [Pereira] with Rakić,” said Smith. “I think it’d make a lot of sense. He’s a good test to see if he can hang with the big guys at 205.”

‘Rocket’ has stayed on the sidelines following a second-round (T)KO loss to Jan Blachowicz due to injury at UFC Vegas 54 this past May. 

When is Anthony Smith fighting again?

As for Anthony Smith, he returns from injury against Johnny Walker at UFC on ABC 4, the upcoming event scheduled for May 13 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. For this fight, the 34-year-old is hoping to get a highlight-reel finish. 

“I don’t suspect it [goes to the judges’ scorecards],” said Smith. “It’s definitely not my goal. It’s definitely not what I plan on. He’s tough, though. I don’t want to go back and forth, trying to hype this fight or whatever he’s trying to do, but I respect him as an opponent. He’s tough.

“Of course, I’m going for a finish,” continued Smith. “I’d love a nasty knockout. I think that’d be a lot of fun. It’s been a while since I’ve had one, so I’d like to do that.”

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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