How does Alex Pereira vs Khamzat Chimaev ACTUALLY Play Out?

Alex Pereira vs Khamzat Chimaev

We’ve been hearing about a potential matchup between light-heavyweight champion Alex Pereira and Dagestani Juggernaut Khamzat Chimaev.

Chimaev, ranked #3 in the Welterweight division, has fought at Middleweight before, and called out Pereira on Twitter. This follows Pereira’s championship victory over Israel Adesanya, wherein plenty of fighters came out of the woodwork to challenge Pereira for the throne.

Chimaev called out Pereira at Middleweight for the championship. Pereira claims he asked to fight Chimaev at light-heavyweight and got no response. Nothing is certain, but the matchup is feasible. How could it play out?

Poatan’s Strengths & Weaknesses

Whilst Alex Pereira may just be one of the best and hardest hitting kickboxers on the planet, he’s still relatively naïve when it comes to the grappling arts. Pereira was put on his back by lackluster takedown attempts from Adesanya, a known anti-grappler. He was even held down by Andreas Michaelidis in his UFC debut. For the time being, Pereira comes off as more of a glass cannon, if he can keep a fight standing, there’s slim chance of anybody winning those exchanges.

The narrative being drawn here is that Adesanya was a good stylistic matchup for Pereira, and that anybody willing to mix in elite wrestling into their gameplan has a very favourable shot at the title.

On paper, there are a few nightmare matchups for Pereira in the Middleweight division already:

  • Robert Whittaker – Fantastic elusive striking and strong wrestling base
  • Marvin Vettori – Brutal wrestling pressure, relentless pace, granite chin
  • Paulo Costa – Relentless pace, solid BJJ

How Does Khamzat Chimaev Compare?

On one hand, Chimaev is a budding striker. He’s able to knock out MW Gerald Meerschaert in 19 seconds, and will stand and bang with Gilbert Burns for the full 15. On the other hand, he’s a world-class grappler, and one of the strongest offensive grapplers the UFC has ever seen. He put this on display when he made Kevin Holland look like a complete newbie at UFC 279.

Khamzat Chimaev ragdolling Kevin Holland

What Khamzat Did To Holland, He’ll Do To Pereira

This ability to level change in the blink of an eye, with the strength that Chimaev possesses, is the game-changing factor in a matchup with Pereira. If this matchup goes to the ground, Khamzat Chimaev will maul Pereira for as long as he wants.

Fighters like Kevin Holland have what Alex Pereira doesn’t, which is decent takedown defense (which he did improve after Vettori), and a superb offensive guard from bottom. It’s these two elements that deter top-control pressure wrestlers like Chimaev, and it’s what Pereira doesn’t have.

Susceptibility to Takedowns

The length of Pereira may help with quick sprawls, but his bladed stance leaves him susceptible to shallow single-leg entries. He also has a bad habit of accepting his opponent’s leg kicks, and even allowing himself to be moved by them. He even falls out of position quite badly when he misses kicks. He’s effectively giving his hips or back to his opponents, just nobody has had the agility to take advantage of it yet.

Not only do these elements come into play, Pereira also uses his stature to lean back in his default stance. His hips are there for the taking!

Alex Pereira puts himself out of position with a missed kick, before knocking out strickland
Pereira whiffing a kick (before KO’ing Strickland)

Alex Pereira vs Khamzat Chimaev – Prediction

I know it’s a fantasy matchup at the moment. But what if?

I firmly believe Khamzat Chimaev shoots for Pereira’s legs in the opening seconds. He’ll then proceed to have his way on the ground, before securing either a submission or TKO. I do believe Khamzat would hype up the fight by claiming that he’ll stand and trade with the world-champion kickboxer, only to subvert expectations with the takedown.

It is known that Khamzat acknowledged his hubris in the Gilbert Burns matchup, and I don’t think he’ll make that same mistake. He fights hard, and trains harder. His suffocating top control and laser-guided takedowns are his keys to victory in this fantasy matchup.

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