3 Potential Opponents for Alex Pereira After UFC 303

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Alex Pereira continued to add to his legend with his TKO over Jiri Prochazka at UFC 303, making the second defense of his title over the former light heavyweight champion. Pereira is now 2-0 with two TKO wins over Prochazka, likely closing the book on the rivalry. Pereira’s future is uncertain considering there are three weight classes he could feasibly fight at. Let’s take a look at three potential opponents for “Poatan’s” next fight.

Magomed Ankalaev

Ankalaev is who should be next for Pereira at light heavyweight. Ankalaev is riding a 12-fight unbeaten streak and finished Johnny Walker since his title fight draw against Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz has not fought since his split decision loss to Pereira but continues to recover from shoulder surgery.

Ankalaev is the No. 2-ranked light heavyweight (behind Prochazka) and has yet to fight Pereira. It would be a fresh match-up against arguably the best wrestler at 205. Ankalaev is one of the few remaining puzzles for Pereira to solve. The match-up would be an interesting gauge to see where Pereira’s takedown defense truly is after it appears he’s made improvements in the second Prochazka fight, training under Glover Teixeira.

Ankalaev deserves the shot, and Pereira deserves a chance to say he’s beaten all fighters ranked one through four at light heavyweight. One or two more wins at light heavyweight, and no one would decry Pereira getting an eventual shot at heavyweight gold.

Jamahal Hill II

Pereira KO’d Hill just over three minutes into their light heavyweight championship contest in April. Hill, the former light heavyweight champion, defeated Teixeira for the title, giving Pereira a chance to avenge his best friend. Just before the finish, referee Herb Dean stepped in after he thought Hill landed a groin strike against Pereira. “Poatan” shrugged Dean off and finished Hill seconds later.

Hill took to Instagram in early June to say Dean threw him off his game and was not a fan of Pereira’s immediate celebration.

“Now I haven’t really spoke on this but I went to Brazil and DOGG WALKED your guy in one of the most one sided ass whooping in championship history and after showed nothing but respect and paid homage!!” Hill said, referring to his win over Teixeira. “I’ve never celebrated over an opponent I beat and even called out my fans for disrespecting Johnny Walker after I slept him!! But because I showed competitive fire and was excited to be back after an injury that could of ended my career y’all think this is was funny or cool!! @alexpoatanpereira you really setup a punch you couldn’t get to without a weird confusing moment and did some weak shit but it ok because you will fight me again and my eyes won’t leave you until your as stiff as Izzy left you in Miami!!!”

Invoking Glover AND Israel Adesanya’s KO over his arch-rival in Pereira? Hill isn’t messing around. Pereira responded in the comments, telling Hill, “You reap what you sow, chama 🔥.”

Should Ankalaev be able to fight next or not, Pereira and the UFC might choose the grudge rematch over Hill instead from a PPV buy perspective. Everyone loves a good “Poatan” rivarly series. First it was Adesanya, then it was a respectful one with Prochazka, and now it could be Hill.

Cyril Gane

Gane is a long shot for Pereira’s next opponent, but it could make sense. Joe Rogan, in the Octagon interview with Pereira, pushed hard for “Poatan” to move up to heavyweight. If not for his next fight, then real soon.

The issue is that heavyweight champion Jon Jones injured his pectoral and is out for an indeterminite amount of time. And Jones seems dead set on fighting former heavyweight king Stipe Miocic next. Miocic is arguably the best heavyweight of all time but hasn’t fought since March 2021, when he was KO’d by Francis Ngannou. Miocic is also 41 years old now.

The other issue is that Tom Aspinall is defending his interim heavyweight title against Curtis Blaydes. Everyone is clamoring for Aspinall, who KO’d Sergei Pavlovich to win the interim title, to fight Jones next. If Aspinall beats Blaydes, calls for him to fight Jones would only get louder.

Pereira could likely fight two or three more times before Jones fights again, whether it’s against Miocic, Aspinall or Blaydes. So saying Jones should be Pereira’s next opponent likely isn’t feasible, unless Jones and the UFC do an about-face and scrap the Miocic fight and have him fight Pereira instead of the interim champion. Impossible? No. But unlikely? Yes.

So Gane makes sense, potentially, for Pereira’s next bout. A fight between two elite kickboxers with Pereira going up a weight class would make for a very intriguing fight. Should Pereira defeat Gane, he could claim a heavyweight title shot whenever he’d please, once the Jones-Miocic-Aspinall-Blaydes log jam is sorted out.

Pereira should bide his time at light heavyweight and look to turn aside Ankalaev and Hill before moving up to heavyweight, when he then might be able to skip the line entirely for a title shot and the chance to become a three-division champion, assuming the Jones saga is figured out by then. Gane is certainly a risky fight for Pereira, as are most heavyweights. But if Pereira wants to challenge himself now at heavyweight, Gane would position him best for a shot at the undisputed title.

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!