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Teddy Atlas compares Alex Pereira to boxing greats Joe Louis and Mike Tyson after latest win

Famed boxing trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas never hides the fact that he knows more about the sweet science than MMA, but he’s starting to draw more comparisons between the two combat sports — at least where the athletes are concerned.

On Saturday, Atlas witnessed another iconic performance from Alex Pereira, who went scorched earth on Jiri Prochazka and put him away with a vicious head kick just 13 seconds into the second round. The kick got the highlights, but Pereira set up his win with a short left hook that put Prochazka down on the canvas just before the end of the opening round.

Saved by the horn, Prochazka attempted to recover during his rest period, but then Pereira delivered the fight-finishing kick to end the night. But Atlas praised Pereira’s punches that led to that knockout, especially as he paid attention to the UFC light heavyweight champion’s ability to close the distance and do maximum damage on the inside.

“I haven’t seen a short punch like that since Joe Louis film, the late, great Joe Louis,” Atlas said. “Joe Louis was famous for throwing six-inch punches. I just saw a three-inch left hook. Incredible.”

Atlas believes one of the most impressive parts of Pereira’s game beyond his staggering power and an ability to dish out so much punishment with very little room to work, is the vision he uses to set up those shots.

Watching the fight at UFC 303, Atlas spotted several occasions when Pereira seemed to know exactly which way Prochazka was going, and that’s where he delivered his offense.

“He’s got radar,” Atlas said. “He’s got x-ray vision. He sees things other people don’t see. Terence Crawford in boxing is that kind of guy. When you see things and you’re that calm, and you’re in that calm kind of environment, all you can be in, you see things and react just a little bit [faster].

“They call it timing, but he has special timing because he’s that calm and he’s got those kinds of eyes.”

Before the fight even started, Atlas was fascinated by the unwavering faceoff that Pereira shared with Prochazka in the cage. Each stared intently at the other, but Atlas has now witnessed on multiple occasions where Pereira has been able to psyche out an opponent just by looking at him.

He saw it particularly on Saturday when watching how Pereira almost seemed to intimidate Prochazka with the cold, dead stare in his eyes.

“Don’t think that doesn’t have an effect,” Atlas explained. “When you get these kinds of results behind it. When a guy can go into your soul, it’s like he’s looking right through. There was Sonny Liston, there was George Foreman, there was somebody named Mike Tyson — it worked for them.

“It helps deteriorate the guy. That’s what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to break a guy down. So when you get in there, what are you doing? You’re trying to physically break a guy down. But before it starts, you’re mentally trying to break them down. That’s where he has the head start on everybody.”

While he couldn’t know exactly what Prochazka was thinking in the cage prior to the knockout, Atlas has a feeling he at least understands the reaction.

Pereira’s uncanny ability to stay calm under fire and then unleash hell on opponents is a particularly frightening skill. That’s the one that might impress Atlas the most.

“[Pereira’s opponents are] thinking, ‘How come he don’t feel like I feel like?’ That’s what they’re thinking!” Atlas said. “‘I feel my heart [pounding], I feel all this. He don’t feel it? So he’s not human?’

“That’s where you start to get into that crazy place. That boogeyman place. Right now [Alex Pereira] is the boogeyman.”

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