Pereira (8-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) and Prochazka (29-3-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will battle for the promotion’s vacant light heavyweight title in the Nov. 11 co-headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York. The belt was relinquished in July by Jamahal Hill, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury in a pickup basketball game.
Pereira has had a fast rise since joining the UFC roster, needing just four fights in the octagon to dethrone then middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. After losing his belt to Adesanya in their title-fight rematch at UFC 287, Pereira made his light heavyweight debut just three months later and defeated former champ Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291 to emerge as a title challenger.
“I feel like I’m being well received in this sport where many doubted me like, ‘He won’t make it – too much of a striker … can’t defend … can’t grapple,'” Pereira said on his YouTube channel. “I’ve been proving those skeptics wrong, earning their respect and today, I see those doubters have flipped and are now fans. Those who were negative before, I see how they’ve changed their mind. But also, it’s my actions that are helping change their thoughts.
“So it makes sense, but big thanks to everyone for the messages, the motivation, and I’m just so stoked. OK, so it’s going to be a fight, a real spectacle, because it’s different styles. But it’s a style everyone loves, and I’m super stoked to have booked this fight. I’m sure it’s going to be a blast. I don’t think anyone will regret watching this fight.”
Pereira is aware of former champion Prochazka’s unique style, but doesn’t think it’s anything he hasn’t seen before.
“Talking about Jiri, he’s a seasoned guy everyone knows – former champ, strong guy,” Pereira said. “His style can be a bit tricky to figure out, but I’ve got loads of experience. I’m used to this kind of fighter, especially a striker. We know he’s no slouch on the ground. He’s a seasoned fighter, and I’m ready for anything.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.