After losing his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya, Alex Pereira has decided to make the jump to the light heavyweight division. His debut at 205 pounds will be against former champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291. However, UFC veteran Anthony Smith has reservations about Pereira’s success in the heavier weight class.
While Smith acknowledges Pereira’s potential at light heavyweight, he believes the Brazilian may struggle against the division’s top contenders due to their skill sets. Speaking on the MMA Hour, Smith also shared his prediction for the Blachowicz vs. Pereira matchup, leaning towards a tough challenge for Pereira.
Currently, Jamahal Hill holds the title at 205 pounds, having claimed the vacant championship against Glover Teixeira in January. Smith also doesn’t see Pereira faring well against Hill, emphasizing the significance of favorable matchups in determining outcomes.
Smith highlights a potential obstacle for Pereira in his kicking game, suggesting that Blachowicz, in particular, excels at defending leg kicks. Smith points out how Blachowicz effectively neutralized Adesanya’s leg kicks in their bout, which played a crucial role in his competitive performance and eventual takedowns.
In preparation for his upcoming fight, Pereira enlisted the help of former opponent Sean Strickland as a training partner. Pereira speaks highly of Strickland’s skills, acknowledging the effectiveness of his unorthodox style and expressing his intention to incorporate some of Strickland’s techniques into his own repertoire.
It’s worth noting that moving up from middleweight to light heavyweight has proven challenging for many fighters in the past. Even Adesanya, the middleweight champion, struggled in his attempt to dethrone Blachowicz at light heavyweight, ultimately returning to his original weight class. Pereira could find himself in a similar situation after his debut at 205 pounds.
UFC 291 is scheduled to take place on July 29th at the Delta Center in Utah, where Blachowicz and Pereira will serve as co-headliners. The main event features a rematch between elite lightweights Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, with the vacant BMF title up for grabs. The event also marks the return of former interim champion Tony Ferguson, aiming to end his five-fight losing streak against Bobby Green. Additionally, the card includes a middleweight bout between sixth-ranked contenders Paulo Costa and Ikram Aliskerov.