Following his second-round knockout of Jiri Prochazka in November, earning him the UFC light heavyweight title, Alex Pereira is leaving the decision of a potential trilogy bout with Israel Adesanya in the hands of his longtime rival. The two fighters have a history, meeting four times in combat sports, with Pereira claiming victories over Adesanya in kickboxing before splitting their two encounters in the UFC octagon.
Pereira initially called for a trilogy bout immediately after winning the light heavyweight title, but Adesanya is currently on a self-imposed hiatus from competition. Pereira, at a recent Q&A in France hosted by Ares FC, expressed that if Adesanya chooses to stay out of action, he is prepared to move on.
“I called him out in the cage after the title win, and I wanted to give him the chance, and I saw he was not giving me any respect for this – he was laughing about it and making some jokes. So for me, it doesn’t matter anymore. I gave him the chance. If he comes up, nice; if he doesn’t, it doesn’t matter,” said Pereira via a Portuguese translator.
Adesanya had previously expressed interest in fighting Pereira at 205 pounds if Pereira were to capture the light heavyweight title. However, since Pereira’s victory, Adesanya has not shown interest in changing divisions again.
Pereira expressed doubts about Adesanya’s motivation to face him again, stating, “I doubt if he really wants to fight me because, talking seriously, he won once against me. It was his dream to win against me, he did it. So now getting into this cage again with me, he knows everything can happen, and he can lose again, so I’m really doubting if he’s motivated to fight me again.”
Looking ahead to his first title defense, Pereira has several potential opponents, including former champion Jamahal Hill, Khalil Rountree, and the winner of a bout between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic. Pereira is open to fighting anywhere, but a return to Brazil, where he can showcase his roots, would be a special experience.
“I like to fight. For me, it doesn’t matter where, I just like to fight. If they put me in the States or in Brazil, for me, it doesn’t matter. But for sure, if I will fight in Brazil, it’s nice because I can show the people where I came from and they can live this experience and they can see and feel what you can reach in your life when you work hard. It’s nice to show them this closer, but I fight wherever they put me, it’s not my decision, so I just want to fight.”
Regarding a potential move to heavyweight, Pereira stated that it’s not currently in his plans. However, he acknowledged that if his body signals a need for a change, he would consider it in the future.