Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

Stone Hand

It’s no mystery how Alex Pereira earned the nickname “Poatan”, which translates to “Stone Hand.” The masterful striker has knockout victories in three professional combat sports, including kickboxing, boxing, and MMA. The former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion will make his UFC debut this weekend at UFC 268. 

Why should you care? Because Pereira is the only person to achieve the seemingly impossible: A knockout victory over current superstar and reigning UFC Middleweight Champion, Israel Adesanya. 

The finish took place in a professional kickboxing competition nearly 5 years ago, prior to Adesanya’s UFC debut. Adesanya suffered a unanimous decision loss to Pereira in their first kickboxing encounter in 2016 before sustaining the KO loss in their rematch less than a year later. 

Chasing Glory Beyond Glory

This Saturday in the featured preliminary bout, Pereira will compete against Greece’s Andreas Michailidis (13-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC). While Michailidis may have three times as much cage experience, Pereira is no stranger to combat sports. ‘Poatan’ has a professional kickboxing record of 33 wins (21 KOs) and 7 losses (2 KOs). Pereira has either avenged or had a previous win over all but two opponents who defeated him.  

Among his kickboxing resume are such names as Artem Vakhitov, Yousri Belgaroui, Jason Wilnis, and Simon Marcus. Pereira even has a victory over fellow kickboxer, Dustin Jacoby, who will also be fighting on Saturday night’s card. 

Despite the allure of a possible trilogy between Pereira and the current middleweight king, a lot would need to fall into place for this to be possible. Even if it did, Pereira openly expressed to the media this week that his aspirations have more to do with the belt than a third face-off with the man who currently wears it. 

“I didn’t just come here to go after Adesanya, I came here to be a champion. Who knows – maybe by the time I get there, he’s no longer the champion any more? So I’m just focusing on one day at a time. I just got to the organization, and I want to be a champion here. If I get there and it’s him, fine, if it’s not him we won’t worry.”

(via The MMA hour with Ariel Helwani)

Future Title Challenger?

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Pereira currently trains at Teixeira MMA & Fitness in Bethel, Connecticut. The gym is owned and operated by fellow countryman, and UFC veteran, Glover Teixeira. Last Saturday Teixeira defeated Jan Błachowicz to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion of the world. One week later, Teixeira will stand in the corner of Pereira in his official UFC debut. 

Pereira has had only four professional MMA fights, going 3-1 with three consecutive knockout wins after losing his MMA debut by submission in 2015. Pereira’s most recent win was in the LFA promotion last November after a near-four year absence from the sport. 

It may seem unreasonable to entertain the idea of a title-run for someone with such little cage time, whose debut still awaits him, but it’s an exciting scenario to imagine. In a division led by an active and dominant champion, there appears to be a shrinking list of obvious title-challengers. It has yet to be seen if Pereira has accrued enough MMA experience to be competitive at this level, but if he can prove himself on Saturday night, the likelihood of a third meeting between the former foes could grow slightly closer to a reality. 

New Rules, New Arena, New Outcome?

Stylistically, the “Stylebender” himself has relied primarily on his elite level striking to achieve his status as the undisputed champion. As seen in his super-fight with former light heavyweight champion, Jan Błachowicz, Adesanya’s still-evolving ground game played a role in his first career loss in MMA. 

If he can find a path to the top while Adesanya is still champion, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for Pereira to beat Adesanya, just as he did before, not just once, but twice. This is especially true if the fight primarily takes place on the feet. 

As he continues his MMA journey among some of the greatest fighters in the world, this weekend Pereira will be focusing on the task at hand. Whether or not the Brazilian eventually paves himself a road to the title, the truth remains that ‘Poatan’ is a world class combat athlete, and an intriguing addition to the UFC middleweight roster. 

By Jared Moehring

Growing up, I was never a big fan of other professional sports. While most kids inherited the NFL, NBA, and MLB teams rooted for by their tribes, I found joy in watching old Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. At the age of 13 I fell in love with the sport of wrestling, and that same year I watched my first ever MMA event, UFC 151: Brock Lesnar vs Cain Velasquez. My eyes glued to the TV in awe as the smaller man imposed his superior wrestling, which ultimately led to a TKO victory for Velasquez. As they say, the rest was history; I was hooked. Throughout the years, I've grown from "casual fan" to "doesn't miss a single round from early prelims to the main event." However, when I'm not creating or indulging in fight-content here in my home of Omaha, Nebraska, I enjoy camping and and exploring various national parks and forests throughout the country. Get to know me on Instagram: @jaredmoehring, or email me with any inquiries: jaredmoehring@gmail.com. Cheers!