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UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira provides update on multiple injuries, potential heavyweight fight

Alex Pereira isn’t ruling out a heavyweight fight but he may have been overambitious about his timeline. Pereira’s body simply will not allow him to compete twice in three weeks at UFC 300 and UFC 301.

Pereira called for a heavyweight fight on the May 4 pay-per-view immediately after knocking out Jamahal Hill in the main event of UFC 300 on April 13. Pereira had previously expressed his ambitions to fight on both cards, but he surprised everyone with the heavyweight wrinkle. Two broken toes — one suffered before and one suffered during the Hill fight — make the quick turnaround impossible.

“I was imagining the best-case scenario [when I called for a heavyweight fight at UFC 301], but I have two broken toes,” Pereira told MMA Fighting on Monday, adding that he’ll be medically cleared in early May. “Both feet are f—ed.”

Champions jumping divisions, often for champ vs. champ super fights, has created multiple logjams over the years. Pereira is open to fighting interim heavyweight champ Tom Aspinall if his team and the UFC deem it appropriate, but becoming a three-division champion is not his immediate priority. Pereira’s desire to compete at heavyweight was more about activity and convenience.

“I don’t want to hold up the light heavyweight division,” Pereira said. “A cool scenario would have been fighting at heavyweight [at UFC 301] and then giving the opportunity to someone to fight for the light heavyweight belt next. I think that would have been cool.

“If it’s a longer period of time, I’d obviously rather defend my belt. If it takes too long and I fight at heavyweight and there are injuries, when am I going to defend my belt? I don’t want to hold up the division.”

Pereira agrees that Magomed Ankalaev, currently ranked No. 2 in the UFC’s official light heavyweight rankings, is among his most viable challengers. The champion welcomes the fight but not on Ankalaev’s proposed timeline of UFC 305 in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 26.

“I don’t want to fight at the end of the year,” Pereira said. “I want to fight sooner, so maybe that shows he won’t be ready. I don’t know why he said that.

“Honestly, I have to see what’s best. I’m here to fight, but I don’t understand best about other things like where is best [to fight] and where isn’t. If I have to fight there, I will, but if it’s not a date I want, then it’s not best for me. I can say no.'”

If Pereira is required to wait that long, he’d rather take an additional month off and fight closer to home. He suspects the promotion will continue its recent tradition of scheduling a November PPV in New York City, a short distance from his nearby home of Danbury, Connecticut. 

“It makes total sense,” Pereira said. “Wait one more month and I’m fighting at home? It’s so much better.”

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