UFC 303: Alex Pereira denies Jiří Procházka's request to not use 'magic' for light heavyweight title bout

The biggest talking point ahead of UFC 303 is whether light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira should be allowed to use magic to win fights, because MMA is a very serious sport.

The discourse comes courtesy of light heavyweight title challenger and former champ Jiří Procházka, who made a public challenge to Pereira ahead of their main event bout on Saturday. Specifically, he requested the Brazilian not use "magic" and "spiritual things" so they can instead fight "man to man."

The request was made on "The MMA Hour" on Monday:

“I think he believes a lot in help of spiritual things, yeah? And that’s something I think he can’t fight without because I want to keep that in a clear line. Just the sport performance, pure performance, man versus man. I think he doesn’t know how to fight without that because he used these things every time. So right now, I’m looking forward for that.”

“Everybody knows he is working with some Shamans, yeah? From his hometown? He believes in some spiritual help from them. I believe too, but I believe in the best performance, in human performance right here right now, without no magic, and let’s see if Alex still works like that — because it’s working — but I believe in a clear way, and I will do that. I want to win by that way.”

Pereira defeated Procházka at UFC 295 in November to capture the vacant light heavyweight title and has since defended the belt against another former champ in Jamahal Hill at UFC 300.

One of the UFC's fastest risers in recent memory, Pereira has indigenous ancestry in Brazil via the Pataxó tribe. He has been very forward with his roots, most notably with the bow and arrow ritual he does every time before entering the Octagon. You can see him taking his belt to a Pataxó reservation and dressing in traditional garb here.

Procházka doubled down on his suspicions at his UFC news conference on Wednesday, when he claimed Pereira "can't fight without" his pre-fight spiritual rituals and again requested they "fight in a clear way."

Pereira, unsurprisingly, shot him down in his own news conference:

“Well everybody has their own spirits, we’re not only made of flesh and bone. I have found mine. If he did not find his or he does not believe, that’s not my fault.”

So, basically, we're dealing with the little-seen accusation of performance-enhancing spirituality.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 13: Alex Pereira of Brazil prepares to face Jamahal Hill in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 300 event at T-Mobile Arena on April 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Alex Pereira does his bow and arrow ritual before every fight. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

However they got there, Pereira and Procházka figure to deliver a fun fight, which should help make up for the disappointment of Conor McGregor pulling out of his previously scheduled main event against Michael Chandler due to a broken toe. The former champs stepped up on two weeks' notice to save the card.

But did Pereira have help?