Contender for the vacant UFC bantamweight title, Alex Pereira, has no plans to return to the middleweight division after his former rival and sparring partner, Sean Strickland, sensationally defeated Israel Adesanya to become the division’s new champion.
“No, that’s not in my plan,” the former UFC middleweight champion said on another edition of The MMA Hour program. “My plan was to fight Israel Adesanya again if he was still the champion and I won the middleweight title. But now I don’t. Shawn is my friend, and besides, I’m not going to make that kind of weight race again. I’ve always made weight, but it’s a very heavy weight race, so I’m not interested right now.”
The Brazilian also explained why he wasn’t surprised at all by Strickland’s win.
“As soon as their fight was scheduled, people started asking me what I thought of him and I answered every time that out of all the guys, Sean Strickland has the best chance of winning. He’s a very good fighter and in their fight I saw some things in his performance that worked. I won’t voice the details so as not to make the job easier for Adesanya in the rematch, but I wasn’t surprised. Shawn did a great job and that’s what I expected him to do.”
As for a likely rematch, Pereira sees no chance of Adesanya winning unless the Nigerian moves away from his style and changes tactics.
“Adesanya is a tough guy, but this is a case where styles make fights. Adesanya’s game just doesn’t fit Strickland’s game. If he fights the same way in the rematch, it will be a continuation of the first fight. Ten rounds. Rounds five through ten will be the same.”
Recall that the middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland, which headlined UFC 293 in Sydney on September 9, went the full distance and ended with a unanimous decision victory for the American, while Alex Pereira will try to win the vacant light heavyweight title against former division champion Jiri Prochazka at UFC 295 in New York on November 11.