When acknowledging how tough the weight cut is for UFC middleweight champion Pereira (7-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), his coach Glover Teixeira told MMA Junkie he even could see “Poatan” at heavyweight.
That’s two divisions up his current weight class, but former middleweight champion Whittaker can see it happening purely on his size.
“I think the talk (of moving up) for him, in particular, is very warranted just because he’s a huge dude,” Whittaker said on the MMArcade Podcast. “He is monstrously big and he struggles with the cuts. I think he’s 35 now, as well, so the cuts aren’t getting easier.
“He’s a big guy. I was surprised at how rough the cut was for him last fight to take the shots off Adesanya as well as he did, as well as to hold up stamina and cardio wise for the five rounds. I think the talk about him going to heavyweight is definitely warranted. I think he has to move up in weight.”
Whittaker doubts heavyweight actually will happen for Pereira, but can see light heavyweight in his future. While he thinks he has the striking to hang at heavyweight, he sees a matchup with current champion Jon Jones a stylistic nightmare for him.
“His striking is world-caliber,” Whittaker said. “His striking would have to literally be one of the best in the world. I think he’d have a lot of success in the heavier weight divisions. … I’d stay well away from Jon Jones. I’ve seen Pereira’s wrestling. I’m not going to say it’s terrible, but you stay well away from Jon Jones.”
Pereira will look to notch his first title defense when he rematches Israel Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) in the UFC 287 headliner April 8 in Miami.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 287.