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Alex Pereira vs Jon Jones will be the biggest fight in MMA, says Plinio Cruz

LockerRoom Team
Calendar Icon06 July 2024

The MMA world is buzzing with speculation about whether Alex Pereira will move to the heavyweight division after his recent victory at UFC 303, where he defended his UFC light heavyweight title with a devastating second-round knockout of Jiri Prochazka. This win adds to Pereira's impressive record, making him one of the few fighters to have won titles in two different UFC divisions, having previously captured the middleweight title in 2022.

The idea of Pereira moving to heavyweight gained traction when UFC color commentator Joe Rogan highlighted it during their post-fight conversation. No fighter has ever captured titles across three UFC divisions, but Pereira’s longtime coach, Plinio Cruz, believes “Poatan” could be the first.

“I like the idea. I think that’s a move that’s going to happen eventually,” Cruz said on The MMA Hour. “But right now, the heavyweight division is clogged. Jon Jones has to fight, Tom Aspinall has to fight, so chasing something that’s not moving yet isn’t the point.”

Cruz revealed that Pereira had shown interest in fighting at heavyweight before but hadn't received a response from the UFC. For now, the focus is on defending the light heavyweight title. “If we’re going to go up, it’s going to be to be a champ. I think we should defend this belt a few more times until the heavyweight division is ready.”

Pereira, 36, has expressed a willingness to test himself at heavyweight since winning the light heavyweight belt. UFC CEO Dana White has resisted the idea, noting that Pereira has only defended his 205-pound title twice. Additionally, the heavyweight division is currently in a state of flux, with champion Jon Jones preparing for a legacy fight against Stipe Miocic and interim champ Tom Aspinall set to face Curtis Blaydes at UFC 304 in July.

Despite these obstacles, both Jones and Pereira have hinted at a potential blockbuster matchup. Cruz is confident that a showdown between the two could be historic. “I think it’d be a mega-fight, the biggest this sport has ever seen,” Cruz said. “We all respect Jon Jones a lot. It would be the best fight between two great champions.”

Pereira’s combat sports resume is extensive, including titles in GLORY Kickboxing and headlining UFC 300 and UFC 303 on short notice, with knockouts of Jamahal Hill and Prochazka. Jones, 36, is a two-division UFC champion who recently captured the heavyweight title with a first-round submission of Ciryl Gane. Jones has called a potential fight with Pereira “absolutely massive” and the “biggest fight in MMA history.”

Cruz mentioned that Pereira weighed around 234 pounds on fight night at UFC 303. If a move to heavyweight happens, Cruz cautions against gaining too much weight. “I want him to weigh as much as he can without losing his agility and speed. Maybe another 10, 20 pounds, around 240ish.”

ALSO READ | Dana White reveals why he does not want Alex Pereira to move to Heavyweight

For now, a move to heavyweight will have to wait. Cruz expects Pereira to fight once more in 2024, likely in the fourth quarter, defending his light heavyweight title. “Since November, he fought three times already, so that’s hard on the body,” Cruz said. “I said, ‘Bro, just enjoy being a world champion for a little bit. Let’s not rush. Let’s train, and when the UFC makes the call, we’ll see what they want us to do.’”

Pereira, always eager for a challenge, reportedly wanted to fight at UFC 305 in Perth soon after his UFC 303 win. Cruz advised caution, emphasizing the importance of taking time to rest and train properly before the next bout.

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