Alex Pereira doubts Jamahal Hill’s guarantee to keep their fight standing


Alex Pereira welcomes a proposed standup duel with Jamahal Hill, but he’s not taking Hill’s word for it.

Hill, who recently relinquished the UFC light heavyweight title due to injury, has promised to score a “standing knockout” of Pereira should their matchup be booked. Pereira claimed the vacated title at UFC 295 with a second-round TKO of Jiri Prochazka, but despite the Brazilian’s fearsome reputation — Pereira is a two-division champion in both MMA and kickboxing, and was inducted into the GLORY Kickboxing Hall of Fame earlier this month — Hill sounds eager to test his striking against “Poatan.”

The comments were brought up to Pereira during a live YouTube Q&A and he expressed doubt that Hill will follow up on his promise.

“Everybody saw that he was saying he will knock me out and he won’t wrestle me, he will stay in the striking and he will knock me out,” Pereira said via a Portuguese translator. “Sure, obviously every guy who could be the next [challenger] for the champion will start talking, but I think he’s a little bit [overconfident].

“I never said I will knock someone out or whatever because you are in a fight camp, you prepare yourself, you have to focus on the fight, and I always say I will give you guys a good fight and a good show, but predicting what happens is a little bit difficult and I think he’s a little bit [overconfident] with everything that he’s saying.”

Pereira has become renowned for his one-punch knockout power, the threat of which has led to victories via strikes over Prochazka, Israel Adesanya, and current middleweight champion Sean Strickland. With his win over Prochazka, Pereira completed the unlikely feat of winning a second UFC title in just his 11th professional MMA bout.

Having passed two of the toughest tests in the 205-pound division (Pereira eked out a split decision win over Jan Blachowicz to earn his title shot), Pereira sees Hill as the next logical challenge.

“I think I proved myself in the light heavyweight division with the fight against Jiri, winning the title, and obviously, as well, with the fight against Jan Blachowicz,” Pereira said. “If I would compare these three fighters — Jamahal, Jan, and Jiri — and someone would tell me like, ‘Hey, choose one you would like to fight,’ I would choose Jamahal because I think he’s a good opponent for me and I think it’s just a little bit too much [for him] as well, looking at my story, my history in kickboxing, to say, ‘I will stand striking and I will knock him out.’

“Because all the people are always trying it and I’m sure he wants to strike, but when he sees it’s not working, he will go on the ground as well. This is what happened in the other fights too. I think Jamahal is a good fight for me, and I think he was a little bit [overconfident] with his statement.”

Hill was not Pereira’s first option though, at least when it came to his post-fight interview at UFC 295. Instead, Pereira called for an MMA trilogy bout with Adesanya, his longtime rival. Prior to their two bouts in the UFC, Pereira earned a pair of wins — one by decision, one by knockout — against Adesanya in kickboxing, and then defeated him in their first MMA fight at UFC 281 to become middleweight champion. Adesanya went on to win their immediate rematch and reclaim that title at UFC 287.

For now, Adesanya appears to be sticking to a self-imposed hiatus from competition as he rests and recovers after a busy championship run. It’s a move that Pereira understands.

“I will respect Adesanya’s opinion,” Pereira said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s afraid or not or not ready or whatever, or just wants to stay a little bit out. If he doesn’t want to fight me now, that’s OK. I respect that. That’s totally fine for me.”


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