Alex Pereira looks like a giant slab of stone brought to life to kill people as part of an evil curse. But, even he gets afraid when it comes to cage fighting. In a recent interview, UFC’s newly-minuted Middleweight champion revealed that he’d never been more afraid in a fight than when he had to face Sean Strickland at UFC 276 this past summer.
“Talking about my last fight, [Strickland] had 25 fights, was doing well in the UFC, ranked No. 4 in the middleweight rankings, he’s dangerous, he’s experienced,” Pereira said.
“I was scared, but when I heard him talk, I relaxed a little bit. He is a good fighter and a experienced one, but he was talking some stuff that didn’t make any sense. For a few months since the fight was booked I had fear, but it was under control. But I’ll tell you when I was the most afraid. Everything he said and up until the weigh-in, everything was fine. When he entered the octagon and started staring at me, he hadn’t looked at me that way before. That was when I became scared.
“He’s another person inside the Octagon, different from his normal personality,” Pereira continued. “I thought ‘This guy wants to kill me’ I’m telling you, this was a different guy from everything else. But in the end it was good that he entered the octagon this way, because it woke me up, I became aware of the danger, I knew I couldn’t make mistakes. I said damn, he’s different in here, you have to be careful with this man. I went in smarter and managed to catch him.”
Strickland engaged in a stand up battle with Pereira, which did not work out for him well at all. The two-division GLORY kickboxing champion felt out Strickland and then flattened him with left hook that ended the fight just 2:36 into the first round. The fight would earn Pereira a Middleweight title shot against Israel Adesanya that “Poatan” cashed in on. He’s now UFC’s 185-pound champion all in just eight professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fights.
Pereira isn’t the only UFC champion who has admitted they get scared before a fight. Former UFC Welterweight and Middleweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, has often said that the fear he feels leading up to a fight fuels him to train and prepare as well as possible, lest he get embarrassed or hurt in the cage.
“Even though I’m scared and I’m afraid to fail, when I walk to the Octagon, I look like I’m, it’s impossible for me to fail and I look very confident, like I’m going to kick ass for sure,” he said back in 2013. “But the truth is, deep down inside, I’m scared as hell.”
It’s pretty refreshing to hear more MMA fighters talking about it, especially someone like Pereira, who just happens to be one of the scariest fighters on UFC’s roster.