June 13, 2024

NEW YORK — Alex Pereira has been in the UFC for just 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 win, 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 two championships in UFC history, doing it in just seven UFC fights. No other fighter has won titles at middleweight and light heavyweight.

“It’s incredible,” UFC CEO Dana White said in the postfight news conference. “I don’t know about an all-time great [yet]. But it’s incredibly impressive what he’s done in a short amount of time.”

Pereira dropped Prochazka with a left hook with Pereira’s back against the cage. Prochazka was clearly hurt, and Pereira fell right into mount, landing punches and elbows in the process. Prochazka seemed to still be fighting back, but referee Marc Goddard stopped the bout. Some fans booed at the stoppage.

“I’m not surprised after the first left hook,” Pereira said in his postfight interview. “He fell down on my legs, and I looked for the finish. I don’t think it was a bad stoppage.”

Prochazka said he agreed with the stoppage.

“I think it was right,” he said. “I was out. But you know, I will never stop.”

The UFC light heavyweight title has had a rough stretch since Jon Jones, the division’s all-time best fighter, voluntarily gave up the championship before moving to heavyweight. Perhaps Pereira will bring stability. Prochazka vacated the belt in late 2022 due to a severe shoulder injury. Jamahal Hill then won it by beating Glover Teixeira in January. But Hill tore an Achilles tendon in July and had to relinquish the title.

ESPN had Pereira ranked No. 2 in the division coming into Saturday.

Afterward, Pereira called out Israel Adesanya to move up to light heavyweight and face him. Pereira and Adesanya have split their two meetings in the UFC, and Pereira has beaten him twice in kickboxing. It’s more likely Hill will be next for Pereira when Hill recovers.

Adesanya, who loss the middleweight title to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in Australia, said last month that he is “not going to fight for a long time.”

“He doesn’t seem motivated and I think it’s a fight everybody would like to see,” Pereira said of Adesanya.

Pereira dropped Prochazka with a leg kick in the first round. Prochazka came back with a takedown late in the first and did some damage with elbows. Pereira continued to work the leg kicks in the second round, leading into 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 kicking power. The punching power. He moves like a middleweight. He’s pretty nasty.”

Pereira (9-2), a training partner of Teixeira, 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.

“It’s my house here now,” Pereira said of the Garden. “How do I get the key?”

Prochazka (29-4-1) had won 13 straight fights, including his first three in the UFC by finish. The Czech Republic native beat Teixeira to win the UFC light heavyweight title in June 2022. Prochazka, 31, is the former light heavyweight champion of Japan’s Rizin promotion.

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