Alex Pereira responds to Jon Jones’ callout for ‘massive’ UFC heavyweight title bout

Alex Pereira heard Jon Jones loud and clear.

The UFC’s reigning light heavyweight champion reacted Friday at a UFC 301 fan Q&A in Rio de Janeiro following comments made by Jones about a potential meeting between the two titleholders. In a lengthy series of social media posts, Jones laid out his case for why he’d rather defend his UFC heavyweight belt against Pereira following his expected bout against Stipe Miocic rather than unifying the title against interim champ Tom Aspinall.

When faced with Jones’ remarks, Pereira did not shy away from the challenge.

“He said he wants this fight, and my job is to fight. This is for the promotion to decide, so let’s see what happens now,” Pereira said in Portuguese.

“After my last fight I said I wanted to fight at heavyweight, but had no answer [from the UFC], so I kind of forgot it and my plans have changed. But there was this message from Jon Jones last night, so I don’t know if this might change [plans moving forward]. Becoming a three-division champion is very hard and not many people try it, but if I have that opportunity, I just want to bring joy to everyone and a better life for my family.”

In addition to being the promotion’s 205-pound beltholder, Pereira, 36, is a former UFC middleweight champion and a former two-division champion in GLORY Kickboxing. He recently headlined UFC 300 with a first-round knockout of Jamahal Hill, adding a fifth former champion to a UFC hit list that already includes Jiri Prochazka, Jan Blachowicz, Israel Adesanya, and Sean Strickland. After UFC 300, Pereira publicly floated the idea of testing himself at heavyweight, but told MMA Fighting on Thursday that he expects his next bout to be a 205-pound title defense against Prochazka in a rematch of their November meeting.

Jones, 36, is also a two-division UFC champion, having held the light heavyweight belt from 2011-15 and again from 2018-20, before capturing the heavyweight title with a first-round submission of Ciryl Gane in March 2023. Jones is expected to face Miocic sometime in the second half of 2024 after recovering from a shoulder injury. Early Friday morning, he wrote on social media that a fight against Pereira would be “absolutely massive” and downplayed Aspinall’s ability to draw. He said a Pereira bout “would be the biggest fight in MMA history.”

“There’s absolutely no fight that generates a payday like that. Marketing would be insane,” Jones wrote.

“Tom only matters in the U.K., newsflash. Pereira is one of the most polarizing figures this sport has seen. Tom’s a contender who won a belt against another contender. We had to save Madison Square Garden’s main event. I’m thinking dollar signs, legacy, big picture here. Not what U.K. fans are dying to see.”

Pereira has never competed above the light heavyweight limit but said Friday that he walks around at 238 pounds when not in camp.

“The longer it takes [to move up to heavyweight], I will be better prepared to fight at heavyweight,” Pereira said. “I’m heavy, but I’m more strong than heavy. I can get to the weight I want in a short period of time.”

Poll

Which would you rather see?

  • 52%

    Jones vs. Aspinall

    (9 votes)

  • 47%

    Jones vs. Pereira

    (8 votes)

17 votes total Vote Now