Alex Pereira left the kickboxing world after becoming a two-division champion in GLORY to pursue a different challenge, and he makes his highly anticipated UFC debut against Andreas Michailidis at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 6.
Glover Teixeira — the UFC light heavyweight contender and a long-time training partner of “Poatan” — sees championship potential in Pereira, who holds a couple of kickboxing wins over UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya, including a vicious knockout.
Speaking on the latest episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Teixeira said he believes “The Last Stylebender” is scared of Pereira’s arrival in the 185-pound class and a potential trilogy bout, this time under MMA rules.
“Daddy’s in the UFC,” Teixeira said. “Adesanya doesn’t wanna talk about it, ‘This guy is just getting here,’ but he knows it’s a tough one for him. No one gives Adesanya more trouble at 185 than him. I’m not saying he’s going to win, it’s another fight, another time, another style, but Adesanya must be praying, ‘For the love of God, put someone like Phil Davis for this guy.’”
Pereira’s most recent MMA fight took place under the LFA banner in November 2020, ending in a scary first-round knockout over Thomas Powell. Teixeira, who’s used to sparring and trading hands with Pereira on a daily basis in Danbury, Conn., dares anyone to “take a punch from him with those little gloves.”
“He hits your right rib and the left rib hurts,” Teixeira laughed. “Adesanya is no match for him. First of all, he’ll be coming in sh*t-scared. [Pereira] knocked him out with 10-ounce gloves. With four-ounce gloves on his hand now… And Adesanya doesn’t have the knockout power Poatan has. He’s f*cking good, don’t get me wrong, Adesanya is awesome, but he doesn’t hit like him. Adesanya hits like a normal guy, Poatan is not normal.”
Adesanya is one of the most technical strikers in MMA today, but Teixeira would expect him to mix it up and try to grapple with Pereira if they meet in the octagon in the future.
“Adesanya has no ground game, at least based on what I saw in his last fight,” Teixeira said, referring to the champ’s bout against Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight. “Adesanya has no ground and wrestling to take Poatan down. In fact, I think Poatan is better than him.”
“I won’t tell you he’s one of the best, a ‘Jacare’ or Rodolfo Vieira on the ground,” he continued. “But he defends well on the ground, has good defensive wrestling, and the way he moves on the feet makes it tougher to close the distance. I have good takedowns, but it’s hard to get to him. I expect him to do well in the UFC.”
Pereira is only 3-1 in MMA going into his UFC debut at Madison Square Garden, but Teixeira expects the promotion to put him on a fast track towards the 185-pound belt given his kickboxing pedigree and his history with Adesanya.
“I do believe it’s tougher to get to Adesanya than fighting him today,” Teixeira said. “If they put him against Adesanya right off the bat, I believe it’s easier for him than getting to Adesanya. Styles make fights. For example, I beat ‘Marreta’ [Thiago Santos] and Marreta knocked out Blachowicz, and Blachowicz knocked out a guy that defeated me, Corey Anderson.
“I told [Pereira] that striking in MMA is a bit different than striking in kickboxing. You’re more relaxed in kickboxing, you don’t need too much footwork and things like that, and he knows it. He’s super smart, he’s a high-level athlete. He’s not just a kickboxer, he’s a high-level athlete with incredible power, incredible preparation, and I believe he’ll do well in the UFC.”
Check out the latest episode of MMA Fighting’s Brazilian podcast Trocação Franca.