After Alex Pereira lost the UFC middleweight championship to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 this past April, Dana White announced he would move to light heavyweight for his next fight. ‘Po Atan’ confirmed the move, saying it was a ‘great option’ for him as he continues his UFC career.
Given his status as an ex-champion, people were curious to see who he would get paired against for his first 205-pound fight. Per the UFC president, the promotion was hoping to get a ‘real guy’ for Pereira. And now, we have the name of the ‘real guy’ White and co. wanted. This past Tuesday, White revealed Pereira would fight Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for July 29 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Alex Pereira eager to fight ‘dangerous’ Jan Blachowicz
For Alex Pereira, the former UFC light heavyweight champion is a tough test. But it is one he expects to come through with flying colors, especially since he has an ace up his sleeve in Glover Teixeira.
“My next opponent will be Jan Blachowicz,” said Pereira on his official YouTube channel. “He is a dangerous guy, an experienced guy. And a guy we know, because of my training partner, Glover Teixeira [who fought him]. I’m sure, training hard and together with Glover, he will pass me a lot of stuff for sure like he is always doing.
“Everybody knows Blachowicz is a dangerous guy, an all-rounder,” continued Pereira. “But I think it’s a good first fight for me. When I say my first fight, some people will think, ‘Oh, that’s an easy opponent.’ No, all of you know my story. I was [UFC] middleweight champion. So, for sure, they wanted to give me one one of the top-five ranked. For me, it wasn’t a surprise. We were negotiating for a while. I was waiting for him. So that’s it. I’m happy about the fight.”
Jan Blachowicz previously expressed interest in Alex Pereira
In a recent interview with Jordan Ellis of talkSPORT, Blachowicz expressed interest in Pereira after his loss to Adesanya. Though he hinted at moving from light heavyweight to middleweight for a rematch with the ‘Last Stylebender’ — Blachowicz defeated Adesanya via unanimous decision at UFC 259 — the former champion admitted Pereira was also another option.
“It’s something good for me because he’s a new opponent a very good opponent,” said Blachowicz. “So, if not Adesanya, we can do this with Pereira, we will see. That will also be a great fight to watch and for me, it’s a good challenge. I like big challenges, so why not? I am ready for both of these scenarios.”
Blachowicz has not fought since his draw against Magomed Ankalaev for the then-vacant UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 282 this past December. Instead of a rematch, the promotion opted to move on to another fight in Glover Texeira vs. Jamahal Hill to crown a new champion. ‘Sweet Dreams’ went on to defeat Texeira via unanimous decision.
For Blachowicz, a win could secure a championship opportunity against Hill, who has yet to schedule his first defense.
“One win, one draw and I think I can take the belt from him,” said Blachowicz. “I think I need to do one more fight before a title shot but if they give me this fight, I will be happy and I’ll prove I can be the champion again.”
Who else is fighting at UFC 291?
Aside from Blachowicz vs. Pereira, UFC 291 also features Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje II for the now-vacant ‘BMF’ championship. Paulo Costa returns against Ikram Aliskerov, the former Brave CF and Eagle FC staple fresh off a successful UFC debut. And Tony Ferguson shares the Octagon with fellow UFC veteran Bobby Green.
Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates to UFC 291 as they become available in the coming months.
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