Smith came under fire Monday when Pereira issued a scathing response to comments “Lionheart” made recently about the former UFC middleweight champion. As a former middleweight himself who found success after moving up to 205 pounds, Smith was asked about Pereira’s transition to light heavyweight and noted that Pereira fought well in his divisional debut against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291. Smith also stated that Pereira wasn’t the same “large, scary monster” at 205 pounds, reasoning that the Brazilian’s 6-foot-4 frame was “fairly normal” for an elite light heavyweight, rather than being gigantic for 185 pounds.
Pereira, however, didn’t take too kindly to those comments — much to Smith’s confusion.
“So I’ll be honest, I texted [Pereira’s coach] Glover [Teixeira] yesterday and said, ‘What in the f*** is this?’” Smith said Tuesday on SiriusXM’s MMA Today. “Because I’m trying to figure out which direction I’m supposed to go here. Like, did he take something out of context? Like, is he reading headlines? Or did he actually listen to what I said? Because what I said was, essentially, is he’s the same size as everyone else. You think if I said Islam is the same size as every other lightweight, he’s going to come at me all pissed off about it? No. All my whole point was is that he moved up to 205, so he’s not going to enjoy the same size advantage that he did at 185. That’s it. I don’t think that — is that crazy? Am I wrong?
“Because the whole question was, ‘You’re a guy that moved up from 185 to 205, what are some of the things that you experienced that Alex may be experiencing, and what’d you see [as] the differences?’ I said, ‘The difference is he’s not the largest guy in that division. That he went from being the largest middleweight on planet Earth, to a normal size 205er.’
“And then I went on to say, what makes him special is how — I used the word special, that he’s a special talent when it comes to being a striker and that the division is more interesting with him in it,” Smith continued.
Pereira certainly didn’t receive Smith’s original comments as innocuous.
In a fiery response issued on his YouTube channel, “Poatan” lit into Smith and essentially dismissed the American as a washed-up veteran “who never amounted to anything.”
“If there’s one guy doing well and another guy only criticizing, people aren’t stupid. They’ll see what’s going on,” Pereira said in response to Smith. “They’ll see that he’s just a bitter man. The only ones who speak bad about me are Anthony Smith types. Washed-up vets who never amounted to anything, who are still fighting, they’re in a really tight spot, or the guy who is still a nobody. But those who are already doing well, I don’t see them talking about me, you know? It’s the ones who are beneath me.”
A day later, Smith still isn’t sure what set Pereira off to provoke such a personal response.
And considering that both men are coming off a win and ranked in the UFC’s top eight of the light heavyweight division, Smith isn’t concerned with making nice with Pereira.
“I said a bunch of nice s*** about you and you’re going to talk s***? I don’t think so,” Smith said. “That’s not how this works. That’s not how this works. And then we’re just going to shake hands when we see each other because you’re doing this media thing, because you’re looking for a rival? If you want a f****** rival, you got one right here. I didn’t do s*** to you.
“I’ve been nothing but complimentary of him and his whole team. I like his coaches. I love Glover to death, and a lot of his training partners. Like, I don’t know what I did to that guy.”