Alex Pereira signs new 8-fight contract before UFC 300, says fight was bumped up from UFC 301

Alex Pereira said his expectation “for a while” was that he would be defending his light heavyweight title against Jamahal Hill at UFC 301 in May.

Then UFC officials called his team, and the bout between Pereira (9-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Hill (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) was moved up by three weeks and officially booked for the main event of the historic UFC 300 card on April 13 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (pay-per-view, ESPN).

“The original verbal agreement, not signed, was to fight at UFC 301 in Brazil – May event, Jamahal Hill,” Pereira told “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani through an interpreter. “But a few days ago they called, and my manager called us asking to headline UFC 300. I liked the idea. I think it’s perfect timing for me to prepare for it, so I just jumped in.”

Although Pereira would’ve loved to fight at UFC 301, which takes place May 4 at Rio Arena in his native Brazil, he said his gut told him it wasn’t going to play out that way. Pereira felt he would somehow find himself at UFC 300, so he took the development in stride when it actually happened.

The former two-division GLORY kickboxing champion has had a career unlike any other before him in UFC history. UFC 300 will mark just his eighth bout in the promotion, yet he has already won the middleweight belt, fought at Madison Square Garden twice, and became one of nine fighters to win UFC titles in two division when he added the 205-pound belt to his collection.

Pereira said he wouldn’t be any happier with how the UFC has treated him, and he’s made that commitment back. Pereira said he signed a new eight-fight UFC contract this past Friday, and with his 37th birthday coming up in July, it could be his final long-term combat sports deal.

“Starting this fight, there’s eight more,” Pereira said. “My relationship with the UFC is very good. I’m very grateful how the UFC and my management team get together. They’ve been doing great things together. I think the UFC also appreciates who I am because I’m a composed guy, I’m focused and I deliver.”

For Pereira, the switch in dates from Rio de Janeiro to Las Vegas wasn’t a problem. He’s used to being very active, so there are no concerns about the shortened window on his end.

That can’t quite be said for Hill, who will be returning to action just nine months after suffering a ruptured Achilles that forced him to vacate the UFC title. It seems like an aggressive turnaround, but Hill insists it’s a non-issue.

Pereira hopes his upcoming opponent is being honest, but even if he isn’t, he said Hill should be accountable for his choices.

“I didn’t know it was such a long recovery for that,” Pereira said. “People have been speculating. Even for the card in Brazil. We’ve known for a while now we were fighting in Brazil and it was like, ‘Is he going to be ready?’ But we’ve got a little bit more than a month for the fight. If he feels he’s ready and he’s trained, then let’s do it.”

The matchup between Pereira and Hill has fireworks written all over it. Both men have highlight reels loaded with devastating knockouts, but Pereira said he isn’t being caught up in the expectations. He wants to keep his belt, and will do it by any means necessary.

“I want to win the fight,” Pereira said. “Anything can happen. I’ve got to be a grown man and think like that. Many people think like, ‘Oh, I’m going to (do this or that).’ No. There are two outcomes for this fight: I either win or lose. I want to win.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 300.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie