The former UFC middleweight champion made a successful move up to 205 pounds Saturday, when he defeated former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz by split decision at UFC 291. Given Pereira — who can also claim a pair of Glory Kickboxing titles — and Blachowicz’s impressive credentials, it was presumed that the winner of their contest will become one half of a vacant light heavyweight title fight.
Pereira looks forward to the opportunity, but was asked at the evening’s post-fight press conference if he thinks Adesanya will also jump up a weight class to continue their longtime rivalry.
“Before my last fight happened, when I made weight, I told the guys that I was going to take a break from the weight class for now,” Pereira said via a Portuguese translator. “It was getting hard a little bit, making weight in a short span of time. So I went up to light heavyweight now. I want to do one more fight at light heavyweight, take some time from all those cuts, and then I actually want to fight in the lower weight class again, middleweight.
“Because in my mind we are 1-1 at middleweight. I won one at middleweight, Israel won the other one, so nothing more fair than making the trilogy at middleweight.”
Pereira stunned the combat sports world at UFC 281 last November when he defeated Adesanya by fifth-round knockout to claim the middleweight title in just his eighth MMA fight. He’d previously defeated Adesanya twice in kickboxing and it wasn’t until their immediate rematch at UFC 287 that Adesanya gained a measure of revenge with a highlight-reel knockout of his own.
Rather than immediately pursue a third MMA fight with Adesanya, Pereira changed weight classes and now moves one step closer to becoming a two-division champion after outpointing Blachowicz.
Jamahal Hill was recently forced to vacate the light heavyweight belt due to injury, leaving the contender field wide open. Pereira doesn’t particularly care who he sees on the other side of the cage if he’s given the title opportunity.
“Anybody,” Pereira said. “For me, Jan is the toughest guy that I could get. He’s the former champ, so whoever they put in front of me, I’m going to train and I’m going to leave with the win.”
One couldn’t help but notice that Pereira towered over Blachowicz inside the cage, which made it even more mystifying that “Poatan” was able to continually make the cut down to 185 pounds.
While he enjoyed not having to lose an extra 20 pounds, Pereira repeated that he’s willing to put himself through it again to settle the score with Adesanya.
“I feel good,” Pereira said. “I feel energized, recharged compared to the last few weight cuts this one was only 20 to 30 percent compared to the other ones. But, like I said, I just need a little break to rest a little bit and I’m going to do some unfinished business at middleweight.”