Last Man To Beat Alex Pereira In Kickboxing Now Wants Rematch In UFC

Artem Vakhitov defeated Alex Pereira in the final fight of the UFC star’s kickboxing career in 2021 and now he wants to go up against him again, but this time in the UFC.

The 33-year-old Vakhitov actually fought Pereira in back-to-back fights that year, with ‘Poatan’ winning their first encounter at Glory 77: Rotterdam by split decision, while 7 months later at Glory 78 Vakhitov avenged that defeat by claiming a majority decision victory.

After that Pereira turned his attention to hunting down another old kickboxing rival turned famous UFC fighter Israel Adesanya, who he had already beaten twice in the Glory promotion. He’s since gone on to have a hugely successful run in which he’s won the middleweight title, then after losing it moved up to win the light-heavyweight title, which he’s successfully defended on two occasions.

It’s a blueprint that Vakhitov clearly believes he can follow, and so after winning his final kickboxing fight early last year (leaving him with a 23-6 record in addition to an extensive amateur background in muay thai), he then turned his attention to MMA.

“I’m working on my MMA game every day,” Vakhitov told MMAJunkie in a written statement. “MMA was always interesting for me, anyway, but obviously I am very motivated by the prospect of getting that trilogy match with Pereira. He’s a superstar now and I am happy for him, but when I hear people saying he’s the best striker in the world … Well, I think it’s time for MMA fans to learn about me and my team – put it that way.”

Vakhitov’s MMA career didn’t get off to the best of starts, suffering a 55 second TKO loss against Ashraf Bashandy in June of 2023, but he has since bounced back from that with two first round TKO victories in a row, and now he hopes his past history with Pereira can propel him to a trilogy fight with the star in the Octagon.

“We are 1-1 against each other, so the next fight will be the trilogy fight and I think that will be a big fight for fans all over the world,” Vakhitov wrote. “We are both top-level strikers. We are throwing punches, knees and kicks constantly. Watch our two fights in GLORY Kickboxing and then imagine we are in the UFC octagon with small gloves on, and I’ll be very confident for that fight. Alex will be completely analyzed by Vitaly Miller and the Kuzbass Team. We will have all his mistakes identified and I will be fully prepared to take advantage when I step in there.”

Having previously defeated him, Vakhitov also spilled the beans as to what the secret to beating Pereira is.

“His biggest weakness is that he is all attack – he has no defense,” Vakhitov said. “Because of his lack of defense, he is open to taking a lot of punches to the head if he’s facing a skilled striker. You saw that in his second fight with Adesanya. He got caught because he leaves a lot of openings for people who know what they are doing.

“These other guys haven’t done well against Alex because their striking isn’t at a high enough level. They aren’t confident against him and they think he’s unbeatable, so in their heart they are already defeated before the fight starts. But I have beaten him before in pure striking competition and I am sure I’ll do it again if we can get our trilogy match in the UFC.”

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.