Marc RaimondiESPN Editor3 minute read
NEW YORK – Alex Pereira has only been in the UFC for two years. And now he has won championships in two weight classes.
Pereira stopped Jiri Prochazka via TKO at 4:08 of the second round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden. With the victory, Pereira captured the vacant UFC light heavyweight championship, making him the ninth two-division champion in UFC history. He was previously the UFC middleweight champion earlier this year.
Pereira is the fastest to win two championships in UFC history, in just seven UFC fights. No other fighter has won titles at middleweight and light heavyweight.
“It’s incredible,” UFC CEO Dana White said at the post-fight press conference. “I don’t know an all-time great (yet). But what he’s done in such a short time is incredibly impressive.”
Pereira dropped Prochazka with a left hook with Pereira’s back against the cage. Prochazka was clearly injured and Pereira fell straight to mount, receiving punches and elbows in the process. Prochazka appeared to fight back again, but referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight. Some fans booed at the stop.
“I’m not surprised after the first left hook,” Pereira said in his post-fight interview. “It fell on my legs and I looked for the end. I don’t think it was a bad save.”
Prochazka said he agreed with the ruling.
“I think it was fair,” he said. “I’ve been away. But you know, I’ll never stop.”
The UFC light heavyweight title has fallen on hard times since Jon Jones, the division’s all-time best fighter, voluntarily relinquished the championship before moving up to heavyweight. Maybe Pereira will bring stability. Prochazka left the belt at the end of 2022 due to a serious shoulder injury. Jamahal Hill then won it by defeating Glover Teixeira in January. But Hill tore an Achilles tendon in July and had to forfeit the title.
ESPN ranked Pereira second in the division on Saturday.
Afterwards, Pereira called on Israel Adesanya to move up to light heavyweight and face him. Pereira and Adesanya split their two encounters in the UFC, and Pereira beat him twice in kickboxing. It is more likely that Hill will be next for Pereira when Hill recovers.
Adesanya, who lost the middleweight title to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in Australia, said last month he “won’t be fighting for a long time.”
“He doesn’t seem motivated and I think it’s a fight that everyone would like to see,” Pereira said of Adesanya.
Pereira dropped Prochazka with a kick in the first round. Prochazka came back with a takedown late in the first period and did some damage with elbows. Pereira continued to work on leg kicks in the second round, leading to the finish.
“He knew it. He kept kicking that leg,” White said. “And that leg was going to be a problem as the fight went on. The power of the kicks. The power of the punches. He moves like a middleweight. He’s pretty nasty.”
Pereira (9-2), Teixeira’s training partner, is the only fighter to headline back-to-back UFC cards at Madison Square Garden. The Brazilian-born fighter, who lives and trains in Connecticut, knocked out Adesanya to win the UFC middleweight title at MSG in November 2022.
Pereira, 36, is a former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion and was recently inducted into that promotion’s Hall of Fame. He is now 3-0 at MSG.
“This is my home here now,” Pereira said of the garden. “How do I get the key?”
Prochazka (29-4-1) had won 13 consecutive fights, including his first three in the UFC. The Czech Republic native defeated Teixeira to win the UFC light heavyweight title in June 2022. Prochazka, 31, is the former light heavyweight champion for Japanese promotion Rizin.