Alex Pereira - The only man to knockout UFC champion Israel Adesanya
As Alex Pereira landed a brutal left hook to the chin of Sean Strickland at UFC 276, the headlines were already being written. The Brazilian has ascended the ranks quicker than just about any fighter before him in the promotion and he now looks set to challenge for Israel Adesanya’s middleweight title later this year.
The two already have a heated rivalry, with Pereira boasting two wins over the Kiwi champion, which has set the stage for one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Here's everything you need to know about the kickboxing champion who is the only man to have knocked out Israel Adesanya.
Who is Alex Pereira?
The 34-year-old Brazilian is a former two-division kickboxing champion after claiming the middleweight and light heavyweight straps in the Glory promotion.
The man they call ‘Poatan’ (stone hands) began his career in combat sports over a decade ago, eventually claiming multiple titles in kickboxing promotions thanks to his powerful and precise striking.
At Glory 46: China, Pereira won the middleweight championship when he beat the former Canadian title holder Simon Marcus via unanimous decision.
After successfully defending his middleweight belt across a number of years, Pereira then moved up to light heavyweight where he faced Donegi Abena for the interim championship. He won this fight with a knockout in the third round, which crowned him as the first fighter in Glory’s history to be a two-division champion.
His last kickboxing appearance came at Glory 78: Rotterdam, where his rematch with Artem Vakhitov ultimately ended in defeat.
Relatively inexperienced in mixed martial arts, the black belt lost his first contest in 2015 via submission, before embarking on a two-fight win streak. However, his contract with Glory kept him competing mainly in kickboxing events right up until a year ago when he signed with the UFC.
Pereira’s rapid rise culminates in UFC clash with Adesanya
At UFC 276, the previously unranked Brazilian was making just his third appearance in the UFC, after spending the majority of his combat career fighting in other promotions around the world.
Pereira debuted in November 2021 at Madison Square Garden, where he produced a highlight reel knockout of Andreas Michailidis to reinforce his reputation as a genuine title challenger in the middleweight division.
This second round victory was followed by an unanimous decision win over Bruno Silva in March. This then led to a clash with Strickland, who was also enjoying a quick rise up the rankings on the back of a six-fight win streak.
However, Pereira made lightwork of the No.4-ranked contender to more than likely set up the highly-anticipated trilogy fight with Adesanya.
The two rivals first met back in 2016 at the Glory of Heroes 1, where the current middleweight champion lost by unanimous decision. Their first fight was a tightly fought contest that went to the judges’ scorecards, with all of them ruling in favour of the Brazilian.
A year later they met for a rematch – in what would prove to be Adesanya’s final kickboxing appearance – with Pereira scoring a savage knockout victory with a counter left hook.
Despite only entering into the UFC last year, Pereira's most significant win so far came last weekend when he delivered a brutal knockout of Strickland, which put him firmly in the title picture.
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