The Brazilian kickboxing sensation captured UFC gold this past weekend at UFC 281 in only his fourth octagon appearance. Picking up the combat sports hat trick over Israel Adesanya, Pereira put away his rival in the fifth and final round of their main event tilt with a flurry of punches against the cage.
Watching the bout closer than most as the former champion and top contender, Whittaker — a former welterweight — couldn’t help but notice how large Pereira was compared to their middleweight counterpart. Ahead of the fight, Pereira shared weight highs of 232 pounds in preparation for his big title fight. Ultimately, he had no issues making the 185-pound mark when it mattered most.
“As I said before, I’m not planning past [Paulo] Costa, but I can say that I think Pereira’s a better matchup for me than Israel,” Whittaker said during the UFC 284 tickets-on-sale press conference. “Just because of the way he stands and the way he likes to push forward. The way he likes to fight I feel gives me a better edge, but in saying that, did you see the size of the fella? (laughs) I’m like, why is nobody mentioning that? Dude’s just giant. He’s an absolute giant.
“I’ve been face to face with Israel and it’s surprising to see like, Israel’s pretty big. He looks tall and lanky, but he’s actually a big dude. Then you see Pereira up against him and just his facial features are bigger, feet and hands and forearms are massive. I’m just thinking like, who let this guy in? (laughs) But still, I think I can take him.”
Whittaker’s prior two losses to Adesanya in recent years put him in somewhat of a limbo this year unsure of when he could challenge for a title again. Now that the title has changed hands, the window of opportunity has re-opened, but he may still have to wait to see how a potential rematch between the two plays out first.
Before even that, however, Whittaker will need to get back on a winning streak by defeating the aforementioned Costa at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia on Feb. 11.
“I understood that if I waited until November to wait to see who would come out on top that I could possibly waited out [for] a title shot,” Whittaker said. “The thing is in doing that, I’ve done that before ... I just end up sitting on the bench for so long. I’m sick of it (laughs). I’m sick of waiting. I just want to get in there, I want to fight. The fact that it’s in Perth is even better. It’s an Australian card, it’s a hop and a skip from where I live. So, I’m really looking forward to getting in there and giving a good showing.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) November 15, 2022
Finally made it to a @freestylebender staff party. We donate to local artists, single mothers, immigrants etc to support their big dreams. Doing the lord’s work for him on his day off. Amen pic.twitter.com/G8i4e9k4WM
Usually on my left side lol.. I’ll take that in 6 to 8 months once I’m cleared!!— Tim Elliott (@TElliott125) November 16, 2022
Tim Elliot is injured— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) November 16, 2022
Dvorak didn’t accept
Molina has a fight and he’ll never fight me in his life…
Manel Kape has a fight
Matt Schnell has a fight
Amir Albazi has a fight
But if any of them are ready for March UKs card you know who to contact @Mickmaynard2
2020 Hadley: 5 cancelled bouts 4-1 (1-1 in ufc)— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) November 16, 2022
2020 Mokaev: 9-0 (3-0 in ufc)
So shut your mouth! Come down to Manchester for a spar I’ll sit on your face I’m here in UK right now!
Full of shit you lad, your own teammates don’t even like you so be quiet don’t ever forget when I saw you at the ACB event and you put your head down, eat that for lifeeeee— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) November 16, 2022
Never been to ACB in my life so that's straight cap— Jake Hadley (@JakeHadleyMMA) November 16, 2022
Just fight already.
I mean, you earned it, champ.
The Moicano vibe is strong.
Homie is mad about money mic Moicano https://t.co/vxfYktDA4y— Renato Moicano UFC (@moicanoufc) November 16, 2022
MMA all the time.
Alex Pereira has been hunting Israel Adesanya for three years pic.twitter.com/apPkdXRfRm— Luca Fury (@FurysFightPicks) November 16, 2022
We got the one, the only @MieshaTate in the house for our 50th card! You can't miss these fights tomorrow. Watch #InvictaFC50 LIVE at 9est/7mst on @AXSTV + @fightnet + @facebook + @YouTube! pic.twitter.com/SFzeqfCUh1— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) November 15, 2022
Victoria Lee (3-0) vs. Zeba Bano (1-1); ONE on Prime Video 7, Jan. 13
John Lineker (35-9, 1 no contest) vs. Fabrizio Andrade (8-2, 1 no contest); ONE on Prime Video 7, Feb. 10
Pereira definitely did look massive against Adesanya at UFC 281. Not totally sure how much of a factor that could be for Whittaker in a fight between the two, but I’d love to find out.
Thanks for reading!
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