Dustin Jacoby: ‘I’m a huge Alex Pereira fan’ but Anthony Smith is right about him

Dustin Jacoby probably knows Alex Pereira better than most after sharing the ring with the future UFC champion when both competed for GLORY Kickboxing.

While there’s still hope they’ll get to run it back one day in MMA, Jacoby has marveled at Pereira’s fast rise up the UFC ranks, where he’s already claimed titles in two divisions with only 12 fights to his résumé. Pereira’s run feels almost unbelievable given his lack of overall experience and the belief that his wrestling and grappling are nowhere near elite level.

That’s been the running commentary from veteran light heavyweight contender and frequent UFC analyst Anthony Smith, who remains impressed by Pereira’s growing list of accolades despite largely remaining a one-dimensional fighter.

“I stand by everything I’ve said,” Smith told MMA Fighting back in April. “[Daniel Cormier] says it all the time, how is this guy still winning fights? Yeah, I ask the same thing. Because it doesn’t make any sense! He has a very limited skill set. He’s very, very, very dangerous at one thing and he’s mediocre at the rest. … I’m not talking shit about it. It’s impressive.”

Jacoby agrees with Smith, because he’s also stunned at how Pereira continues to steamroll his competition, which now includes a vicious knockout win over Jamahal Hill to cap off the historic UFC 300 card in his first title defense at 205 pounds.

“I tell you what, it’s incredible,” Jacoby told MMA Fighting. “I’m a huge Alex Pereira fan, but there are so many guys at the 185-pound division — because he came into the UFC at 185 — and at 205 [pounds] who I think can beat him, just in the MMA rule set. But he keeps proving us wrong, he keeps knocking everybody out. I am blown away.

“I know he’s a great fighter. One of the best strikers, if not the best striker on the planet today. His left hook is unreal. His striking, his timing, so much power. But you can’t tell me there’s not a guy out there like [Khamzat] Chimaev — like, I feel like Chimaev would just go in there and grab him and throw him down.”

While Pereira has taken offense to Smith’s criticism, Jacoby promises nothing is being said with malicious intent.

But he won’t hide the fact that Pereira has gotten by with one very dominant weapon while still trying to evolve the other parts of his overall MMA arsenal.

“It’s remarkable what he’s been able to accomplish, what he’s accomplished in such a short amount of time,” Jacoby said. “I’m a huge Pereira fan, but I believe there are several guys on the roster at any weight class that could beat him with the right strategy and on the right night.”

Smith previously welcomed the chance to compete against Pereira in anything he wanted, although the conversation almost always drifts back to grappling because that’s a perceived weakness for the Brazilian.

There’s no telling if those two will ever actually face off, but Jacoby expects that Pereira would be in for quite a rude awakening if he actually had to go to the ground with Smith in a fight or a grappling match.

“It’s insane,” Jacoby said. “I don’t understand it. Because a guy like Anthony, people don’t understand how good his jiu-jitsu is. Training with that guy in jiu-jitsu absolutely sucks. It makes you feel like you’re rolling around in a wet blanket and you feel like you’re suffocating the whole time.

“Could Pereira knock out Anthony? Abso-f*cking-lutely, I think he can knock out anybody. But Anthony’s also a guy, if he just went in there and shot and just worked to get it down to the ground and getting it into his world, I could totally see Anthony winning that fight.”

With or without world-class grappling, Pereira continues to run roughshod over the UFC, and Jacoby knows that deserves a standing ovation.

That still doesn’t mean Smith is wrong in his assessment.

“Kudos to him, but Anthony’s right,” Jacoby said. “It’s not that I think he’s dogging him. I think it’s more of a respect [thing], kudos to him.”

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