“It means a lot to me to win another belt,” he said. “It’s the culmination of the hard work I’ve put in, always giving it my all. Every day, I’m putting in the time and effort. I wake up, come to the gym, do my workout, go back home, then I train again. I have two, three sessions a day. Nothing has been given to me. I work hard for it.”
The blood, the sweat, the sacrifice of moving thousands of miles away from home and all the sacrifices in between culminate at UFC 295. When Pereira makes the second-to-last walk of the night, he’ll feel the fears that come up for any fighter, but he’ll also think, “I’m ready; it’s what I always wanted.” Those concerns bolster his courage as he marches to the Octagon, firing an imaginary arrow and a three-piece combo along the way.
So while the fight is just like any other for Pereira, it also means more than that. The arena is familiar – one which housed some of his best Octagon moments – but the fact that it is Madison Square Garden just means more. The light heavyweight title is just one of many for which he’s fought, but that, and what winning it could mean for his legacy as one of the greatest mixed martial artists, just means more, too.