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Alex Pereira Rules Out Middleweight Return, Says He’s Friends With Sean Strickland

Alex Pereira, the former UFC middleweight champion and ex-Glory Kickboxing star, is on the verge of making history in the UFC. The Brazilian knockout artist, who goes by the nickname “Poatan”, is set to fight for the vacant light heavyweight title against Jiří Procházka at UFC 295 on November 11 at Madison Square Garden.

Pereira earned his shot at the 205-pound belt after defeating Jan Błachowicz, another former champion, in his light heavyweight debut at UFC 291 in July. It was his second win in the UFC, following his stunning knockout of Israel Adesanya, his longtime rival and former middleweight champion, at UFC 281 last November.

Pereira had previously expressed his desire to win the light heavyweight title and then go back to middleweight to avenge his loss to Adesanya, who knocked him out in their rematch at UFC 284 in March. However, things have changed since then. Adesanya lost his belt to Sean Strickland, a fighter who Pereira considers a friend and a training partner.

In a recent interview, Pereira said that he has no interest in fighting Strickland or returning to middleweight, as he is happy with his new weight class and his friendship with “Tarzan”.

"It is not in my plans," Pereira said. "My plan was if Israel Adesanya was still the champ down there, maybe win the light heavyweight belt and make a fight with him. But now, no. Sean's my friend. Also, it's not a weight cut that I'm looking to do. I always made that weight. Never missed weight or anything like that. But it is a hard weight cut. So, right now, it's not in my interest."

Pereira’s decision might surprise some fans, as he already has a dominant win over Strickland at UFC 276 last July, when he stopped him with a vicious elbow in the first round. However, Pereira said that he respects Strickland as a fighter and a person, and that he does not want to fight him again.

“I have nothing against Sean,” Pereira said. “He’s a great fighter and a great guy. We trained together and we became friends. He deserves to be the champion. I’m happy for him.”

Pereira added that he is focused on his upcoming fight with Procházka, who is also a former Glory Kickboxing champion and a knockout specialist. He said that he expects a tough and exciting fight, but he is confident that he will emerge victorious and become the first fighter to hold UFC titles in two different weight classes simultaneously.

“I’m ready for Jiří,” Pereira said. “He’s a dangerous opponent, but so am I. We both like to stand and bang, so it’s going to be a war. But I have the power and the skills to knock him out and make history.”


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