Brazil’s first UFC champion Murilo Bustamante breaks down path for greatness for Alex Pereira


Can Alex Pereira kick off a dominant run in the UFC middleweight division? Murilo Bustamante is the Brazilian’s first to have that belt. “Poatan”, however, has the potential to win it. But he must make some adjustments to ensure he does.

Pereira dethroned Israel Adesanya in an incredible comeback victory at UFC 281, knocking out “The Last Stylebender” in the fifth round while down on the scorecards in New York on Nov. 12. It seems they’ll run it again sometime in 2023,, and Bustamante says he is happy to have the belt returned in Brazil.

“‘Poatan’ put in an amazing fight and there were no other options for him during that final round, except a submission. Or a knockout. And he did it,” Bustamante stated on the Trocacao Franca . edition of MMA Fighting Podcast “Adesanya fought well but ‘Poatan’ showed composure and mental strength to keep fighting until the end and get a very important victory. “Adesanya fought well, but ‘Poatan’ showed composure and mental strength to keep fighting until the end and get a very important victory.”

Bustamante expects Pereira to “only get better as a fighter” after such a huge victory at Madison Square Garden, which boosted his MMA record to 7-1 after a stellar career in kickboxing, and predicts their next showdown will be “more difficult for Adesanya.”

Pereira won two kickboxing victories over Adesanya before he was awarded the UFC title. But Bustamante believes that his Brazilian counterpart must go to the gym to improve his other skills in order for him to keep up his momentum.

” The level is so high,” Bustamante stated. “I think Robert Whittaker won his last fight against Adesanya. Robert has so many skills and isn’t easy to read. Robert was able to take down well. [Pereira] needs to work on his game, make it more even, and train more ground. He’s great on the feet but he has to train more ground game and wrestling. Adesanya definitely has more cage experience, he has been in more five-round fights, but ‘Poatan’s’ rise definitely was meteoric. He gained a lot of experience from his title victory.

“[Pereira] will have more growth now and stay for a long time [at the top], but he must work on his ground game a lot for that. Among all the disciplines he dominates, jiu-jitsu — or ground and pound or ground game, whatever you wanna call it — is the weakest. He’s shown evolution with his wrestling. He’s excellent on the feet, but needs to balance it more. He’ll have trouble .”

if he takes down a skilled grappler [that]

Bustamante sees Whittaker as the worst match-up style-wise for Pereira right now. That said, with “Poatan” and Adesanya likely to rematch next, the leader of Brazilian Top Team shares the same advice to both fighters: “I think they both have to work on their ground game.”

Pereira was promoted to brown belt in jiu-jitsu by his coach Plinio Cruz after UFC 281, while Adesanya still ranks purple belt under Andre Galvao. Bustamante, a red-and-black belt under Carlson Gracie who won and defended the UFC belt back in 2002, said he respects both their coaches but, under his own criteria, he does not promote fighters that don’t train with the gi.

“I think Adesanya should vary more with takedowns, use different strategies round after round,” he said. He was pulled in the final, even though he did well on his feet. He could make things more interesting and try to submit on the ground. ‘Poatan’ has already proved he will find a way to win on the feet in the end.

“‘Poatan” must use more combinations than he used in the last round. Although his takedown defense has improved, I don’t know much about his ground game. Although he did very well at the bottom of the table, I believe he needs to improve his jiu-jitsu. Each must work harder on their jiu jitsu .