UFC champ Alex Pereira opens up about crippling addiction: “Didn’t have any control”
UFC champion Alex Pereira has revealed how a struggle with alcoholism almost ended his career.
“Poatan” Pereira is the UFC’s newly crowned middleweight champion after a spectacular finish over Israel Adesanya in round five of an actionpacked titlefight at UFC 281; however, the Brazilian’s road to UFC gold was not without its twists and turns. Pereira was raised in poverty, and forced to work from a young age. While the experience taught him much, it also led to an addiction that plagued him for most of his young life.
“We weren’t living in a great situation,” Pereira said on the Nem Me Viu podcast. “My dad was a bricklayer, my mother was a housekeeper. So I started working early on, in a tyre shop. I was 12 years old, doing a grown man’s job… I got better and better, doing stuff that was really heavy for a 14, 15-year-old boy. So, at this time, I learned good and bad things. I learned how to drink.”
Pereira felt he could control his drinking initially, but as he got older the desire for alcohol evolved into a compulsion.
“I didn’t have any control over my addiction. I drank more and more. I said to myself, ‘I can quit drinking whenever I want.’ But that’s not how it works. I knew that sport was going to save my life. I discovered martial arts, mainly kickboxing. At first, I couldn’t train much and I drank a lot. After a while, I started training a lot and still drinking a lot…. Then, I finally started to train and drink a lot less. But it still wasn’t enough.
“At this time, I was already the national champion in kickboxing. My addiction was pulling my career down. I tried to drink only on weekends, but I couldn’t. It was too hard for me. (I was) 27, or something. I just drank everyday, everyday man. I could hardly stay one day off of it. At the worst times, I drank almost one liter of booze a day.”
Pereira made his pro debut as a fighter in 2009. For four years, he tried to balance his addiction with his career, but eventually he realised that a drastic change was needed. Today, the champion is completely sober, staying away from both alcohol and other drugs.
Next up for Pereira is likely an immediate rematch against “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya. “Poatan” Pereira has three straight victories over the former champion, two in kickboxing and one in MMA!
Who do you think Alex Pereira should fight next?
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