If Alex Pereira wins the light heavyweight championship at UFC 295, Chael Sonnen believes he should be named Fighter of the Year.
For the vacant 205-pound title, Pereira (8-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) will compete against Jiri Prochazka (29-3-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in Saturday’s main event at Madison Square Garden in New York on November 11.
Islam Makhachev, the lightweight champion, is now Sonnen’s Fighter of the Year. At UFC 294 Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) defeated Alexander Volkanovski twice: once via decision and the other via first-round knockout. Makhachev is the featherweight champion.
“The current leader for Fighter of the Year is very clear: It’s Islam Makhachev,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel. “No other fighter this year has taken out somebody to that degree. Islam only got two fights this year, but it was the same guy, Volkanovski, the undefeated, the unbeaten, the reigning world champion.
“While Islam slid past one, he then took on Volkanovski, who had another title defense and was the reigning, sitting world champion, and he didn’t get out of the first three minutes. The clear leader right now is Islam.”
Alex Pereira would be Fighter of the Year with win over Jiri Prochazka
Sonnen would award former middleweight champion Pereira the title of best fighter of the year if he can defeat Prochazka and capture a second UFC belt in just seven octagon bouts.
In April of 2023, Pereira lost the middleweight title to Israel Adesanya. In July of the same year, he made his light heavyweight debut and defeated the former champion, Jan Blachowicz. Pereira would have won the middleweight and light heavyweight titles in the same calendar year if he defeats Prochazka on Saturday.
“However, if Alex Pereira wins, he will within this calendar year – which is the specific dates of the question – have been the 185-pound champion and the 205-pound champion in the same calendar year, and therefore makes him Fighter of the Year per my vote,” Sonnen added.