Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Alex Pereira is not big on doing interviews, but opened up in a recent interview with MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca ahead of his return on Saturday at UFC Vegas 50.
The former two-division GLORY champion accused UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya of being “scared s***” of facing him under MMA rules after already losing twice in kickboxing, and made sure to respond to comments made by Daniel Acacio and Andre Dida, the coaches of UFC Vegas 50 opponent Bruno Silva.
Acacio, a PRIDE veteran, told PVT that middleweight contender Jared Cannonier has heavier hands and poses a bigger threat to Adesanya than Pereira. Dida, likewise, commented on an Instagram post saying they were out to turn Pereira off.
“It’s their athlete and they want to boost his moral, but I hope they are saying that and then telling Silva to stay alert against me,” Pereira told MMA Fighting. “Now, if [Acacio] is really putting in his head that Alex is weak, he doesn’t know how to build his athlete’s career. He’s misguiding him.”
Pereira scored 21 knockouts in 33 professional kickboxing wins before retiring in the sport in recent years to pursue a future as a UFC middleweight contender. On his way there, he has landed vicious finishes under the LFA and UFC banners. Silva is more experienced in MMA — 22-6 in the sport with a 86% knockout rate — but when he announced the matchup on his Instagram, Silva wrote that he was “on my way to my 20th knockout,” which baffled Pereira.
“Just look at the numbers. See how many knockouts I have in kickboxing and how many knockouts he has,” Pereira said. “Let’s see how his knockouts were. The knockouts I have, people stay in bad shape, need oxygen, wake up the next day. How does someone say crap like that? But it’s OK. He wants to raise his [profile], cool. If I were him, I’d say, ‘I said that in the interview but don’t buy it, OK?”
Acacio is a veteran of 50 MMA bouts, and Dida competed in 11 MMA fights as well as dozens of Muay Thai contests, including a clash with Buakaw Por Pramuk at K-1 World Max in 2009.
“Some coaches don’t go through [in-fight] situations, but he has, including when he fought Buakaw,” Pereira said of Dida. “People sent me that fight. He knocked the guy down. He only won the round because he knocked him down, but he got beat up after that. He got beat up in the second round, and got beat up again in the third. The extra round, another beatdown. [Buakaw] won the fight.
“That knockdown counted a lot, but, f***, he got beat up badly. [Silva] might come and win against me, cool, but it’s not the way people are saying. I’m telling you, man, sometimes a coach ruins the athlete.”
Pereira isn’t sure why Silva and his team are talking in the way they are, but thinks it “undoubtedly” adds more pressure upon Silva to deliver at UFC Vegas 50.
“I think he might come with this mindset of trading with me, but it will depend on how I behave in the fight,” he said. “People underestimate my ground [game] a lot, they don’t know how I’m training. I didn’t have to show anything yet. If I have to show it, I will. I’ll tell you this, maybe it’s more comfortable for [Silva] to fight me on the feet than on the ground.
“A fight is a fight, everything can happen, he might land a hand and I go down. He’s strong, well-trained, physically well. But looking at the numbers, the way I scored my knockouts and the way he’s scored his knockouts … man, I think I’m more dangerous.
“I’m sure that if he was completely honest after [the fight], he would say I’m the most awkward fighter he’s ever faced in his life. Technically awkward, not understanding things [I do].”
Pereira also made sure to weigh in on comments Silva made on a recent episode of Trocação Franca, in which Silva said he doesn’t like to be friendly with potential opponents because he gets emotional.
“You train hard and go through everything you do and, f*ck, someone greets you and it all changes?” Pereira said. “I don’t agree with it. I don’t think that’s being emotional, I think that’s being insecure. With all due respect. I had that. I don’t think he can differentiate insecurity from being emotional. I was insecure back in 2011 when I made my professional debut. How am I going to train and do everything I do and let it all change because someone is polite to greet me? Are you nuts? That’s insecurity to me. He’ll see that one day.”