Alex Pereira believes he has the attention of the man who he previously defeated inside the kickboxing ring, current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

In 2017, Pereira (4-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) finished Adesanya in a kickboxing match, which many believe is a big reason why he was signed to the UFC in 2021, despite only having a handful of professional MMA bouts. The Brazilian kickboxer debuted at UFC 268 against Andreas Michailidis, showing the world his striking offense is for real by landing a devastating flying knee in the second round to close the show.

Just a few months later, Pereira is set to make his second walk to the UFC cage at UFC Fight Night 203 to take on Bruno Silva (22-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC). While Pereira believes the middleweight rankings are right around the corner should he pick up another impressive win on Saturday, most importantly, he believes he already has the attention of Adesanya.

“Honestly, the moment that he found out that I signed here, I believe he’s already been worrying about (a rematch),” Pereira told reporters through an interpreter at Wednesday’s media day. “He knows of my potential and he knows how far I can get.”

Should he be successful in his second UFC appearance, the possibility of entering the official UFC rankings after two wins is unlikely. However, given his extensive kickboxing background which includes an impressive run in Glory filled with highlight-reel stoppages, he may have a better chance at cracking into the top 15 than some think.

After his debut stoppage, Adesanya stated that he hopes Pereira continues to do well in the UFC because he is a potential challenger that could rapidly ascend through the ranks and provide a new challenge. Since Adesanya is knocking off contender after contender, he’ll need some fresh blood and Pereira could be exactly what he’s hoping for sooner rather than later.

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