Alex Pereira has officially announced his decision to move up to light heavyweight after losing his UFC middleweight belt to Israel Adesanya at UFC 287, and rising 185-pound prospect Caio Borralho expects the ex-champ to shine.
On this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca, Borralho expected Pereira would be an underdog if he faces Adesanya one more time, even though he’s 3-1 against the Nigerian talent in MMA and kickboxing. He said moving up to 205 pounds would be the right call.
“His weight cut is too severe,” Borralho said. “I think [the knockout punch] was the first punch that landed in that fight, and even though it was a hard one, I think his ability to absorb strikes will never be the same when he’s dehydrated. If you watch ‘Poatan’ training, he’s way heavier and hydrated, so he takes a lot of punches to land his own, but your brain can’t absorb strikes the same way if you have dehydrated 20 pounds.
“And I’ll tell you this, he can make history at 205. Not cutting so much weight and fighting in a division that doesn’t have so many high-level wrestlers and grapplers, it’s the perfect division for ‘Poatan.’”
Borralho, who returns to the octagon on April 29 in a UFC co-main event clash with Michal Oleksiejczuk after a 3-0 start in the company, feels Pereira could earn a light heavyweight title shot after two wins in the division; he expects champion Jamahal Hill to defend next against Jiri Prochazka and Magomed Ankalaev to get the subsequent title shot.
“I think Ankalaev could be the toughest fight for him, a Dagestani with high-level wrestling,” Borralho said. “He’s a southpaw, too, and we saw ‘Poatan’ struggle when Adesanya changed to southpaw stance. I think Ankalaev is one of the toughest match-ups for Pereira, even more than Jiri Prochazka and Jamahal Hill. I think ‘Poatan’ beats both fairly easily.”
The fact Hill recently beat Pereira’s teammate and mentor Glover Teixeira for the UFC gold in Rio de Janeiro could fast track him to the top, though.
“I think two wins would earn him without anyone saying he’s taken shortcuts,” Borralho said. “But since you have the Hill narrative — and I’ll tell you this, no way Jahamal Hill handles him, man. His style, and the fact ‘Poatan’ is too big even for 205. I don’t think Jahamal stands great chances again him, and I would easily bet on ‘Poatan’ in this fight.”