January 19, 2023 11:00 am ET
UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira sees two viable options for his first title defense.
Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) dethroned Israel Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) to become middleweight champion at UFC 281. He thinks either a rematch with Adesanya or a matchup with former champ Robert Whittaker will be next – and he doesn’t have a preference.
Whittaker (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) currently doesn’t have a fight after his matchup with Paulo Costa at UFC 284 on Feb. 11 fell through due to Costa’s failed negotiations with the UFC.
“I want to come back in April or May,” Pereira told ESPN through an interpreter. “I will be ready for those dates. There’s nothing in the works now, and I know probably it’s going to be Izzy with a rematch, or probably Robert Whittaker.”
Pereira’s history with Adesanya makes a rematch an easy sell. Pereira came into the UFC with two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, then beat him a third time in their first MMA fight. But because Adesanya was a five-time defending champion and on his way to a decision win against Pereira before he got caught in Round 5 of their title fight, a rematch could be next.
“Poatan” currently is in Brazil helping teammate former light heavyweight champ Glover Teixeira, who meets Jamahal Hill for the vacant title in Saturday’s UFC 283 headliner at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC and early prelims on ESPN+.