The former two-division GLORY kickboxing champion won a “Performance of the Night” bonus in his very first UFC appearance this past Saturday, flattening Andreas Michailidis with a flying knee at UFC 268 in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden. Pereira’s debut was met with much fanfare due to his extensive kickboxing background, which includes two wins — including a much-talked about comeback KO — over current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Glover Teixeira, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion and a longtime training partner of Pereira’s, foresees a third fight between the pair soon.
“I told [Pereira], ‘One year,’” Teixeira said on The MMA Hour. “I told him when he signed with the UFC, ‘Hey man, they’ll be talking about you in about one year, three fights.’ Especially the way he fought. It couldn’t go better.
“I couldn’t be more happy as a coach as a training partner that’s been telling people that this guy is no joke. He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s learning things quick. He’ll get things quick. I’m talking about you get a regular guy and whatever, that guy’s gonna learn in six months – [Pereira will] learn in a week. You show him a move and he just does it.”
Pereira’s experience level pales in comparison to Texeira’s (his UFC debut was his fourth pro MMA bout, while Teixeira is closing in on the 20th anniversary of his pro MMA debut), but Teixeira thinks “Poatan” has great instincts when it comes to picking up new techniques.
Speaking from experience, Teixeira said he used to successfully execute submission holds in competition just a day after seeing them demonstrated and he sees some of that same spark in Pereira.
If Pereira keeps improving, he could be no more than three fights away from another dance with Adesanya.
“Alex is kind of like [me in training] and couldn’t have done better [at UFC 268],” Teixeira said. “He got taken down, he defended takedowns, he got up and he stayed there. You see the other guy come out of the clinch, the guy’s face was all messed up, he was dead tired and he come out with the flying knee. So calm, so relaxed.
“I say three more fights the most, and he wants to fight quick. He wants February already, he wants to fight quick, so he’s going to fight back to back probably. No injuries, no nothing. By this time next year, they’ll be talking about him and Adesanya.”