3 of the best moments of Alex Pereira's career

Here are three moments from Alex Pereira that we cannot stop thinking about.
UFC 295: Prochazka v Pereira
UFC 295: Prochazka v Pereira / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Since arriving at the UFC in November 2021 as a kickboxer turned 3-1 MMA fighter, Alex “Poatan” Pereira has exploded in popularity and up the UFC rankings at a rate unlike MMA fans have ever seen. Pereira transitioned into MMA after a 26-7 kickboxing career. Since his arrival, he has fought in eight bouts, with four of them being title fights, and against six fighters who have all held UFC gold within the last three years. Pereira has arguably been the hottest name in MMA since he won his first UFC championship one year into his tenure. Pereira has the distinction of being one of the fastest to claim a UFC championship and is also on the short list of fighters who have captured gold in two weight classes.

1. Alex Pereira knocking out Sean Strickland

Remember when Alex Pereira did THIS when he fought Sean Strickland!? 😳 Poatan is ready to run the rematch with Israel Adesanya NEXT SATURDAY at #UFC287!

Posted by UFC on Tuesday, March 28, 2023

At UFC 276, during International Fight Week 2022, Pereira was matched up with surging middleweight contender, No. 4 ranked, Sean Strickland. At the time, Strickland was sporting a career record of 25-3, with a 5-0 undefeated streak since his move up to middleweight. Pereira was coming into what would be his third UFC fight with a now 5-1 career, and 2-0 record inside the Octagon.

As the bell sounded, Pereira crossed the Octagon to engage with his opponent and looked like his normal cold, and calculated self. At no point did the moment of fighting a much more experienced mixed martial artist look too big for Pereira, as he stayed out of any danger and kept his composure from the second the fight began. The fight lasted less than three minutes before Pereira's vicious left hook connected with Strickland's chin and sent him crashing to the canvas for an early round one knockout.

This fight, and win for Pereira have aged wonderfully, while since the encounter Strickland has spent time as UFC champion. This fight should be looked at as Pereira's coming out party, as he shined in what would be his first main card fight versus an experienced and highly-ranked opponent. A rather impactful event that unfolded on this same card, which made Pereira's win seem more meaningful, was the poorly perceived main event of Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier. In a rather lackluster five-round unanimous decision win for Adesanya, everyone was left questioning Adesanyas abilities and fantasizing about the future matchup of Adesanya vs. Pereira.

2. Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 1

After the events of UFC 276 unfolded, Pereira walking through Strickland and Adesanya putting on a highly criticized performance versus Cannonier, it was announced that the next in line to challenge Adesanya for his middleweight championship would be Pereira. As both are former elite-level kickboxers, the major storyline going into this fight was Pereira being up 2-0 in previous kickboxing matches against Adesanya.

The third meeting between the two, this time in MMA, was scheduled for UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden. Pereira came into the fight being billed as Adesanyas kryptonite, and he showed just that. While Adesanya was being more strategic and in many eyes, close to walking away with a decision victory, Pereira was the one who dug deep late in the fight and put Adesanya away with a TKO stoppage around the halfway point of the fifth and final round.

This win made Pereira the first man to finish, and defeat, then 23-1 Adesanya at middleweight. It may be anti-climatic to put such a crowning achievement on this list, but when you consider this was just Pereiras seventh professional MMA fight, and only one year since his first fight inside the Octagon, the speed of his journey to UFC champion is somewhat incomprehensible.

3. Alex Pereira knockout out Jamahall Hill

Pereira winning his second title at as many weights, or one of his highlight knockouts could easily make this list. However, the story of his career seems to have shifted to be the willingness and ability to step in during massive moments and perform to the absolute best of his ability. 

UFC 300 was designed to be the greatest combat sports card ever assembled with fans waiting and speculating for months about who would be headlining the historical event. As fights were announced, the MMA world waited for the final announcement of who would share the Octagon in the final bout of the evening. While many fans expected a once-in-a-lifetime type main event, it was Pereira versus yet another former champ in Jamahal Hill that got the nod to close the show. Main eventing such a loaded card shows the belief the UFC has in Pereira and shows how he has become one of the main faces of the company since his arrival a few short years ago.

Pereira made quick work of his opponent and put Hill away early to defend his light-heavyweight title, with a round-one knockout victory. After the highlight knockout, Pereira also gifted fans one of the most popular post-fight celebrations in recent memory. There seems to be no doubt that Pereira has arrived as a massive star for the worlds biggest MMA organization, and it is exciting to theorize how he could outdo himself next.