UFC welterweight champion, Jamahal Hill, has expressed skepticism about the power that Alex Pereira, the former middleweight champion, will bring to the light heavyweight division. Pereira, who boasts a record of 7-2 and a UFC record of 4-1, is scheduled to make his light heavyweight debut against Jan Blachowicz (29-9-1, 12-6 UFC) in the co-headlining fight of UFC 291.
The exciting match-up will take place on July 29 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. Pereira’s middleweight career was highlighted by a spectacular knockout of Sean Strickland, followed by a fifth-round TKO of Israel Adesanya, winning him the middleweight title.
Despite losing the title in a rematch with Adesanya, Pereira demonstrated formidable punching power. However, Hill predicts that the light heavyweights may be more resilient against Pereira's punishing blows.
A Middleweight Asset or a Light Heavyweight Liability?
“His power is not going to count for as much as it was at the middleweight division,” Hill shared with Middle Easy.
“At the middleweight division, whenever he hit them, they had to really, really address it. They couldn’t just brush it off. It made countering more difficult because of the level of power he brought to the middleweight fights.
I don’t think that’ll be the same case at 205. He will need to be more strategic." Despite his doubts, Hill, who is slated to defend his title for the first time against ex-champion Jiri Prochazka, sees the winner of Pereira vs.
Blachowicz as the next top contender. He also favors the Polish fighter, citing his robust striking skills and potential to exploit Pereira’s grappling deficiencies. “I think the winner of that is definitely a No.
1 contender,” Hill added. “I’d give the edge in the fight to Jan for the simple fact that Jan can strike. He has the ability to outstrike Pereira, in addition to the potential to take him down, immobilize him, and win through attrition if he’s able to expose the lack of grappling in Pereira's game." That's not to say Pereira should be underestimated.
As Hill acknowledges, "Alex is Alex. He’s got ‘Poatan’ stone hands. He can land heavy shots, he could easily catch Jan off-guard and put him away. He’s a big guy, too. He wasn’t a small middleweight.
He’s going to bring considerable size and reach into the ring. If he can land his strikes effectively, he can probably take Jan out." Hill concluded by comparing the two divisions, noting, “The mixed martial arts skills, in terms of versatility—being able to transition from striking to grappling—are more well-rounded in the light heavyweight division than the middleweight division.
Many of the middleweight division fighters are primarily specialists”.
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