He may not be fighting for another belt just yet, but UFC 291 looks like a big night for former middleweight champion Alex Pereira both figuratively and literally.
The multiple time Glory kickboxing title holder will make his first appearance up at his new weight class tonight, against former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in the co main event of this weekend’s PPV in Salt Lake City, UT. To mark the occasion, Pereira stepped on the scales looking absolutely massive, even for a light heavyweight.
Alex Pereira still looks like a giant
Standing all of 6′ 4″, Pereira positively loomed over his competition fighting all the way down at 185 lbs. He also had a habit of looking like grim death every time he stepped on the scales. With an extra 20 pounds of weight to play around with, it’s no surprise he looked a lot more healthy on Friday at the UFC 291 weigh ins.
That said, it’s still a little bit of a shock seeing Pereira stand next to Blachowicz. A former champion, Blachowicz may not be the tallest light heavyweight in the world, standing at 6′ 2″, but he’s still plenty big. Ask any untrained viewer which of these men used to fight down a division, however, and I doubt many people would pick Pereira.
Perhaps it’s not terribly surprising that Pereira looks so much more natural up at light heavyweight, especially considering that the weight class is still a big lighter than where he used to compete back in his kickboxing days.
Pereira actually used to fight at 209 lbs
Although he started his career down at 187 lbs, by the time he was done plying his trade inside the ring, Pereira had already made a massive leap up in weight. As early as 2013, Pereira competed for the WAKO World Championships at 91 kg (200 lbs). And in 2019, he made the move up to Glory’s light heavyweight division, defeating Ertugrul Bayrak for the 95kg (209 lbs) title.
Pereira defended that belt once against Artem Vakhitov in 2021, before losing it in a rematch to Vakhitov via Majority decision later that same year. Shortly after that loss, Pereira made the jump over to MMA full time, signing immediately with the UFC to face Andreas Michailidis just two months later. Meaning he made a nearly 25 lb. swing in competition weight in just two months.
As tall as he is and as little work as he’s had to do to bulk up to light heavyweight, it’s not even out of the realm of imagination that someday fans could see Alex Pereira all the way up at heavyweight. Who knows, maybe he could even become the UFC’s first three division champion. Stranger things have happened.
Alex Pereira not worried about grappling
Maybe it’s that kind of size and strength that has Pereira feeling so confident about his chances of tangling with Jan Blachowicz on the ground. In a recent interview with Combate, ‘Po Atan’ talked about how he feels he matches up with Blachowicz’s ‘Polish Power’. And while he’d prefer to keep the fight standing, he sounds like he’s put a lot of time into his grappling game.
“Before my last fight with Adesanya, I said ‘I want to move up. I want to go to a different division. No matter what happens. Win or lose, I’m moving up’. I needed this break. I need a couple of fights in this division so my body can recover. I’m maintaining the same weight, 103 kg (227 pounds). The only thing that changes is my diet. I’m eating well now. I don’t have that ‘I’m weak, I didn’t eat that thing’ excuse now. No, I’ve eaten everything.”
“I think he’s better at striking [than grappling]. Lots of people don’t know and I haven’t had a chance to show my quality on the ground. If he forces (the takedown), I think I’ll be able to show some in this fight. I think his striking is more dangerous than his grappling, though.”
All things considered, I’m still not sure this is a fight Pereira will find all that much success in if he can’t get up off his back.
UFC 291 goes down this Saturday, July 29th, in Salt Lake City, UT. Outside of the light heavyweight co-main event the card is expected to be headlined by a lightweight rematch between former interim champions Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, competing for the UFC ‘BMF’ title.
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