Alex Pereira, a Brazilian kickboxing legend and former Glory middleweight champion, has made waves in the MMA world with his impressive striking skills. He made his UFC debut in October 2021 and knocked out Andreas Michailidis with a stunning knee to the body. Since then, fans have enthusiastically enjoyed seeing his fights in the octagon.
Israel Adesanya stunned Alex Pereira earlier this month, rendering him unconscious. The Brazilian dropped his middleweight UFC title in the course of events. 'Poatan' declared after his defeat that he will be going up to light heavyweight, even though many fans had hoped to see a trilogy match between the two fighters. It appears like he may enter title contention with only one or two victories given the status of the division right now.
Of course, there remain a few outstanding fighters in that region, and the Brazilian will face several of them. However, there's one opponent that former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier believes Pereira should avoid: Magomed Ankalaev.
“That’s the matchup that you as Alex Pereira would want to avoid,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “I think that’s the only one at 205 that you want to avoid right now is Ankalaev because Ankalaev can wrestle, and we saw that in the fight against Jan Blachowicz, where he took him down for the last three rounds.”
Ankalaev, a Russian fighter, is currently ranked #2 in the UFC's light heavyweight division. He has a professional record of 18-1-1 and is known for his striking and grappling skills. He's also on a 9-fight win streak, with his most recent outing coming against Jan Blachowicz in December 2022 resulting in a split draw.
Other than Ankalaev, Cormier doesn't believe Pereira poses a significant grappling danger at light heavyweight.
“Now there’s very few wrestlers,” Cormier said. “So if you are Alex Pereira, you really aren’t as concerned about going up to 205 then you might have been in the past because there just doesn’t seem to be as many guys for you to worry about just taking you down and laying on you.”
Jamahal Hill, the current light heavyweight champion, is expected to face Jiri Prochazka in his first title defense, thus Cormier prefers Pereira to appear in his debut in the weight division versus Blachowicz, a previous champion.
Regardless of who Pereira fights next, there's no doubt that his striking skills will continue to be a major asset in the octagon. And if he does eventually face Ankalaev, it will be an intriguing matchup between two of the UFC's most exciting young fighters.