Octagon Oracles: Alex Pereira

Drew Beaupre

Grade: B-

Former GLORY kickboxing champion Alex Pereira will step into the UFC Octagon on Saturday night for what will be just his fourth pro MMA bout.

After first testing his hand at MMA from 2015-2016 for Jungle Fight in Brazil (going 2-1) “Poatan” returned to the sport with a first round KO of Thomas Powell in the main event of LFA 95 in November 2020.

As impressive as his return to MMA was last year, it’s difficult to gauge what expectations should surround Pereira heading into his UFC debut. The obvious narrative the UFC will play up are the two kickboxing victories Pereira holds over current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, but Adesanya fully committed to MMA in 2017 while Pereira continued his kickboxing career.

There’s not a whole lot that can really be drawn from his limited experience, especially given that he took his first three MMA fights in less than a year and then returned to kickboxing until his fight in LFA. As would be expected he’s finished all three of his wins via strikes, but he did lose his MMA debut by submission after being unable to close things out during the first two rounds of the fight.

The biggest question is going to be how much he’s been working on his grappling and when we’ll see it tested, but it seems like the UFC are invested in him at least having some early success. His opponent Andreas Michailidis has spent the majority of his two UFC bouts on the feet and has shown a tendency to extend his chin when pressing forward, which will be a tempting target for the same left hook Pereira used to knock out Thomas Powell in LFA.

There are some good wrestlers at middleweight (particularly in the top fifteen) that could test him considerably, but I don’t anticipate the UFC matching him up with them unless it’s to try and give Pereira a chance to reach Adesanya.

His age (34) is also a concern for me, but while I don’t think Pereira will achieve anything resembling Adesanya’s MMA career he can certainly have a more successful (and hopefully longer) run in the UFC than fellow GLORY champion Gokhan Saki.

Out Within 1-2 Years
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A Mainstay Through the Years
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Title Contender
Champion

James Colwell

Grade: C+

Pereira is a world-class kickboxer who’s proven himself repeatedly over a long reign as Glory’s middleweight champion, and he’s also beaten Israel Adesanya twice. However, he’s just 4 fights into his MMA career so I’m somewhat surprised the UFC is bringing him into the fold so early in his new career.

He made his MMA debut for Brazilian promotion Jungle Fight back in 2015 against Quemuel Ottoni, who was 3-0 at the time and is a quality prospect in his own right. Pereira wasn’t able to get the finish with his striking and ended up wearing out and getting choked out in the third round. He came back 3 months later to score his first MMA win, a 1st-round knockout of a 8-7 journeyman. A much more impressive win came 4 months later, as he recorded a 2nd-round punch-out of a 6-0 prospect. Then came a 4-year layoff before Pereira resurfaced for a main event with LFA in November 2020. While LFA usually provides very competitive matchups, this fight against a 4-4 unknown was clearly a set-up to add one more highlight to the reel and Pereira obliged with a 1st-round KO.

While he’s proven that the power in his fists translates well to the cage, I still have a lot of questions about Pereira’s wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and scrambling ability if the fight goes anywhere besides open space. He’s also already 34 due to his long kickboxing career, so he doesn’t have a whole lot of time to iron out whatever holes he might have in his MMA game. I understand the signing from a business perspective, as Pereira is easy to build hype around when his tape includes a dramatic KO of the current UFC champion, but from a talent perspective I would have liked to see him prove himself against a qualified grappler after his long break from the sport. Pereira has a winnable first matchup against Andreas Michailidis but I think his ceiling in the promotion is capped as someone who will be involved in lots of exciting finishes but can’t string together a long streak of wins.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion