Pereira plans first UFC title defense, hoping for Adesanya or Whittaker



Alex Pereira after defeating Israel Adesanya at UFC 281.
Alex Pereira after defeating Israel Adesanya at UFC 281. | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

The newly crowned UFC middleweight champion wants to return soon.

Newly crowned UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira is eyeing Israel Adesanya or Robert Whittaker for his first defense.

In a ‘Comeback of the Year’ candidate, Pereira dethroned Adesanya by fifth-round TKO at UFC 281 this past November. An immediate rematch was teased by UFC president Dana White, who said he would not rule out running the title fight back again.

During a recent interview with Carlos Contreras Legaspi of ESPN Deportes, Pereira said he was ready to return to the Octagon soon. And as for his opponent, ‘Po Atan’ said he’s considering the ‘Last Stylebender’ or the ‘Reaper’ next.

“I want to come back in April or May,” said Pereira. “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.

“No preference, Izzy or Robert, [I’m] going to be ready,” continued Pereira.

Whittaker was tied to a potential No. 1 contender against Paulo Costa at UFC 284 in February, but that was canceled after contract negotiations between the UFC and ‘Borrachinha’ soured. The ex-champion hoped to get rescheduled in the first quarter of 2023, but the promotion has yet to announce a new fight for him.

At this time, the only pay-per-view event announced for when Pereira would prefer to return is UFC 287, which does not have a location or venue.

Prior to his win against Adesanya, Pereira rattled off three consecutive wins that included ‘Performance of the Night’ awarded KOs of Andreas Michailidis and Sean Strickland.

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