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Alex Pereira got $303,000 bonus from Dana White for UFC 303 knockout, coach reveals

Alex Pereira got a little something extra for saving the day at UFC 303.

That’s according to Pereira’s longtime coach Plinio Cruz, who revealed Monday on The MMA Hour that UFC CEO Dana White gave Pereira a $303,000 post-fight bonus following his successful light heavyweight title defense at UFC 303. Pereira knocked out Jiri Prochazka with a brutal second-round head kick after accepting the bout on just two weeks’ notice following the withdrawal of original headliner Conor McGregor due to injury.

“He was talking to Dana in the back, and they were talking about a bunch of stuff, and Dana said, ‘As a matter of fact, you won Performance of the Night.’ And he said, ‘$303,000?’ He goes, ‘No, no, no, $50,000,’” Cruz explained Monday on The MMA Hour.

”But reality of the fact is, he did not — they gave $300,000 bonuses for [UFC] 300 and [Pereira] did not get Performance of the Night. They gave two to Max [Holloway], so he was a little bit salty about that. And I think because of all their history and then taking the fight on two weeks’ [notice], Dana looked at him and said, ‘You know what, man? I’m going to take care of you. You’ve got the $303,000.’ He even joked, he said buy a supercar with that money. [Pereira] goes, ‘I’ve got enough supercars.’ He wants a Cybertruck.”

Pereira, 36, has now saved the day for UFC twice in a span of three months, having also defeated Jamahal Hill in the short-notice main event of UFC 300 on April 13 to salvage the promotion’s well-documented efforts to find a suitable headliner for the tricentennial card.

But if the saga of UFC 300 was already a roller-coaster, UFC 303 may as well have been the Formula Rossa.

Cruz said Pereira was still in the negotiation stages for a rematch against Prochazka on Aug. 17 at UFC 305 when promotion officials first broached the team about the possibility of filling in for McGregor. Cruz admitted he was initially against the idea and told as much to Pereira, however “Poatan” was ready to accept right away. By the following morning, all details were ironed out and the impromptu title rematch had been made official.

Pereira previously defeated Prochazka via second-round TKO in November 2023 to capture the vacant light heavyweight belt, and Cruz said he expected a longer fight the second time around. That might’ve happened, too, if it wasn’t for some last-second film study.

“Alex is a much better standup fighter than Prochazka is, so we wanted to be patient,” Cruz said. “I told him, ‘Bro, let’s just take the first two rounds easy, let’s pace ourselves.’ Because Jiri, the longer the fight goes, he tends to let a little bit of his level of discipline lower and he starts to throw stuff, he starts to get a little more risky, he takes chances.

“And our game [plan] until the fight night was basically going over there, feel [out] the first two rounds, and push the pace as the fight goes, especially if Prochazka was going to maybe try to do a grappling match. We knew that none of them will be able to grind for five rounds, because it was week two of the camp, so the longer the fight goes, that’ll benefit Alex. And then it happened, that thing in the locker room.”

That thing in the locker room, as Cruz framed it, has already been etched into Pereira lore.

Both Pereira and Cruz revealed post-fight that they noticed the opening for the fight-ending head kick by scrolling Instagram in the locker room before the bout. UFC’s social media team posted clips of both fighters warming up, and Pereira’s immediately team spotted the hole in Prochazka’s game plan. Cruz said the adjustment was made less than 20 minutes before Pereira’s walkout. In the end, the champ’s pre-fight audible worked to perfection.

That locker room footage of Prochazka also stood in stark contrast to the vibe Pereira’s team presented in their clip, which showed Pereira and his team casually line dancing.

Cruz suspects Pereira’s nonchalant yet remarkably focused demeanor throughout fight week may have played tricks on Prochazka’s head, especially after Prochazka made a point to accuse Pereira of practicing “black magic” before their first bout at UFC 295.

“The dance was a magical ritual. That was doing witchcraft right before before the fight,” Cruz said, laughing. “Man, I think he got a little bit in his head. You know what I mean? Alex has his indigenous background from his parents. He likes to honor it and I respect him a lot that he honors the the culture of his people, and I help him to do that, I’m a big supporter.

“I think that Jiri somehow might’ve got in his own head if he’s calling indigenous stuff as witchcraft and whatever. But that just played more on our side. That just helped him.”

“[Pereira] has actually a very special vision [when it comes to] timing, distance, and the angles in the way that he [approaches his craft],” Cruz added. “It’s almost like he has his own style of fighting. He just combines his boxing and the kickboxing, and the way that he just implements [everything] is just light years ahead, the vision that he has [for] the game.”

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