Can Alex Pereira start a dominant UFC middleweight streak? For Murilo Bustamante, the first Brazilian to receive this belt, Poatan has every chance of doing so, but he must change a few things to succeed.
Pereira toppled Israel Adesanya in an incredible comeback victory at UFC 281, knocking out The Last Style Bender in the fifth round and losing on scorecards in New York on November 12. Bustamante is “happy to see this belt back in Brazil.
“Poatan put up an incredible fight and in this final round he had no choice but to submit or knock out and he did it,” Bustamante said on this week’s MMA Fighting podcast. Free exchange. “Adesanya fought well, but Poatan showed composure and mental strength to fight to the end and win a very important victory.”
Bustamante expects Pereira to “only get better as a fighter” after such a big win at Madison Square Garden that raised his MMA record to 7-1 after a stellar kickboxing career, and predicts their next fight will be “more difficult for Adesanya. “.
Pereira had two kickboxing victories over Adesanya before taking the UFC title over the Nigerian superstar, but Bustamante believes his fellow Brazilian needs to go to the gym and work on other aspects of his game in order to be versatile enough to continue to stay on top. top. .
“The level is very high,” Bustamante said. “I think Robert Whittaker won his last fight against Adesanya. Robert has so many skills and is not easy to read. He had good takedowns. [Pereira] you need to work on your game, make it smoother and practice more ground. He plays great on his feet, but he needs to train more on the ground and wrestling. Adesanya definitely has more experience in the cage and has been in more five-round fights, but Poatan’s rise has definitely been meteoric. This title gives him great experience.
“[Pereira] will have more growth now and stay for a long time [at the top], but for this he must work hard on his ground game. Among all the disciplines in which he dominates, jiu-jitsu – or ground and pound, or ground game, call it what you will – is the weakest. He showed evolution through his struggle. He has excellent footing, but he needs more balance. If he fights a good grappler [that] kill him, he’ll be in trouble.”
Bustamante considers Whittaker Pereira’s worst style at the moment. However, with Poatan and Adesanya likely to have their next rematch, Brazil’s Top Team leader gives the same advice to both fighters: “I think they both need to work on their ground game.” “.
Pereira received a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu from his trainer Plinio Cruz after UFC 281, while Adesanya still holds the purple belt under Andre Galvao. Bustamante, a red-and-black belt under Carlson Gracie who won and defended the UFC belt in 2002, said he respects both of their trainers, but by his own criteria, he doesn’t promote fighters who don’t train in kimonos.
“I think Adesanya should vary more with takedowns, use different strategies round after round,” he said. “Despite the fact that he was well on his feet, in the end he was caught. I think that he could change the situation and, perhaps, go to the submission hold on the ground. Poatan has already proven that he will eventually find a way to win on his feet.
“Poatan needs to use more combinations like he did in the final round. His takedown defense is good and his offense has improved too, but I haven’t seen him play on the ground yet. He felt good when he was at the bottom, but I think he needs to work harder. Both should work more on their jiu-jitsu.”