Alex Pereira more than justified the hype in his UFC debut.
The Brazilian middleweight was slotted in the UFC 268 prelim headliner spot on ESPN and did more than shine under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. He knocked out Andreas Michailidis with a devastating flying knee at the start of the second round and showed everyone why he’s arguably the hottest prospect in the division.
That was the type of performance that Pereira expected he would deliver in his debut, and it was a moment that he’s proud of.
“My UFC debut was everything I expected. I didn’t know exactly how it would happen, whether it was going to be a knockout by a knee or any other blow, but I was very confident because I was training hard for my debut,” Pereira told UFC.com. “For me, it was very important to fight at Madison Square Garden because there were many names that competed there before, and I managed to put on a show for the fans that were there and everyone that was watching. That was important to me.”
The feeling of having the audience on his side and the energy coursing throughout the world’s most famous arena was priceless to Pereira.
He had experienced moments like his debut during his time as a champion kickboxer in GLORY and other organizations, but nothing felt quite like throwing hands and getting a Performance of the Night bonus at MSG in his UFC debut.
And although it’s well documented that Pereira has defeated current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya twice on the kickboxing scene, the 34-year-old isn’t getting ahead of himself. He’s more focused on making the climb up to face Adesanya than actually facing his former foe.
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“I only have plans until this next fight and I won’t know what’s next until after this fight,” Pereira said. “Yes, I want to be a champion. Since I joined the UFC, I joined to become the champion. It doesn’t matter if it’s Israel Adesanya or whoever it is, I want to work and become champion. Every time I win, I will definitely be closer.”
Pereira’s next opportunity to get closer comes on the UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Ankalaev main card, when he fights fellow Brazilian Bruno Silva.
Both fighters have said they are going to bring the fight, and that type of mentality is something that Pereira respects. And with the fighters combining for 24 finishes in their 27 victories, fans should expect fireworks when the two collide in the UFC APEX on March 12.
“Bruno said he’s going to come to knock me out, to throw hands. He might try to do that, but depending on how I behave in the Octagon, he might change his strategy,” Pereira said. “He is a guy who, even before fighting in the UFC, has been showing why he’s respected. In the UFC, he already has those three wins by knockout. He’s a kid who deserves people giving him all these compliments. I think it’s going to be a tough fight, but I prepared a lot for it, and I want to come out with the win.”
This fight against Silva is really the perfect opportunity for Pereira to solidify himself as more than a prospect with some hype behind him. A statement win would set Pereira up for big fights in 2022 and likely help him get a crack the middleweight Top 15 sooner rather than later.
Don’t miss Pereira’s sophomore UFC performance this weekend, as he takes on Bruno Silva at UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Ankalaev on ESPN+ at 7pm ET / 4pm PT.
UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Ankalaev took place on Saturday, March 12, 2022, live the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.