Before Jacoby became one of the hottest rising names in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, he was a middleweight contender competing in GLORY kickboxing — the same organization where Pereira once reigned as a two-division champion. Back in 2014, in Jacoby’s second year in the organization, he and Pereira actually crossed paths at an event in Zagreb, Croatia — and things didn’t exactly end well for the American.
Pereira knocked Jacoby out in brutal fashion with his trademark left hook. To this day, it remains the only time Jacoby has been knocked out cleanly in his combat sports career.
That same power has now made its way to the UFC’s octagon, where Pereira is 3-0 and set to be the next challenger for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya following his highlight-reel knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276. Pereira is 2-0 against Adesanya in kickboxing as well, and Jacoby is all too aware of the dangers Adesanya is up against.
“It’s an interesting matchup. I fought Pereira — it’s the only time I’ve ever been knocked out,” Jacoby said Monday on The MMA Hour. “The guy knocks everybody out with the left hook. I can say that loud and proud, because there’s several guys that have fallen victim to him. And he’s just a dangerous man. Izzy, I know [Pereira] holds the 2-0 record, but again, that’s kickboxing, and one of those fights I think was a really good fight that could’ve gone either way. And Izzy’s just different inside the MMA octagon. He’s got good defense. He fights really smart. He’s got high IQ. I’m a big fan of both guys.
“But I would never bet against Pereira, man. That guy can literally touch anybody and knock them out at the drop of a dime, so Izzy’s got to be careful.”
The early returns from Pereira’s time in the UFC have been impressive. He kicked off his run with a monster knockout of Andreas Michailidis followed by a gritty decision over Bruno Silva, but it was the Strickland knockout that really pushed his stock into overdrive.
Jacoby has experienced similar success since making his own transition back into MMA, rattling off a nine-fight unbeaten streak to take advantage of his second UFC opportunity. He’s faced plenty of power punchers along the way, including in his latest win over top light heavyweight prospect Da Un Jung at UFC Long Island, but Jacoby said nothing has come close to approaching the freakish power he experienced at the hands of Pereira.
“No. 1, hands down. It’s not even a close comparison,” Jacoby said. “Dude, I have a great chin. That’s not something to be real proud of, but if you’re going to be fighting people for a living, you better bring that to the table. If you’ve got a good chin, you’ve got a good chance of staying the fight. And with him, he just touches people different.
“I’ve been able to take a lot of punches from a lot of guys that are solid. Da Un Jung got me with one shot and it was a clean right hand, but I took it like nothing and it never fazed me one bit. I’ve yet to be rocked here in the UFC and I’ve fought a lot of big guys. Excuse me, Pereira just hits different, man. He’s got that power.”