Alex Pereira cancels plan for return to UFC’s middleweight division: ‘It’s taken a toll on my body’

NEW YORK – Alex Pereira has had a change of mind.

The former UFC middleweight champion has walked back the talk of a return to the 185-pound division and plans to stay at light heavyweight. Pereira (8-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) returns to the octagon this Saturday in the main event of UFC 295. He takes on Jiri Prochazka (29-3-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title.

This championship fight marks Pereira’s second bout at 205 pounds in the UFC. He debuted in the division back in July, and he’s feeling great without having to cut down to middleweight. So much so that it will be a permanent stay.

“No, I don’t think so,” Pereira said through an interpreter on a potential return to middleweight at Wednesday’s UFC 295 media day. “Like I’ve mentioned before, I did have plans for middleweight, but I feel great in this weight class, and I’ve fought a lot at middleweight. It’s taken a toll on my body. So for me, it’s much better to stay in this weight class.”

Pereira holds a first-round knockout win over the current champion at middleweight – Sean Strickland. Strickland is scheduled to return in January to make his first defense against Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297.

Pereira, who was one of the few who gave Strickland a chance at becoming champion and dethroning Israel Adesanya, believes Du Plessis is in for a rough one.

“I haven’t really stopped to analyze the fight and really look into it, but I really believe that it’s going to be really hard for Dricus Du Plessis to beat Sean Strickland,” Pereira said. “I believe that Sean Strickland is the favorite.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie