On the verge of a middleweight title opportunity, Sean Strickland is seemingly taking a step back when he faces UFC newcomer Alex Pereira.
Expected to go down at UFC 277 on July 30, Strickland (25-3) will step into the Octagon against Pereira (5-1) who will be making his third promotional appearance. Meanwhile, Strickland is ranked 5th in the division and riding a six fight win streak.
While Pereira has looked impressive in his two UFC bouts, giving him an opportunity against a top five contender while he himself is nowhere to be found in the top 15 was a surprise to MMA fans. The popular opinion is that the UFC is attempting to fast track Pereira’s chances at a title shot against current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Pereira and Adesanya have met twice before in kickboxing bouts under the Glory of Heroes banner. Pereira won both contests, the second via knockout. With Pereira being the only person to have ever knocked out Adesanya in combat sports, it’s understandable why the company is chomping at the bit to make that fight happen.
“You Don"t Even Need to Make Weight"
Prior to the announcement, the general consensus believed that Strickland would face #4 ranked contender Paulo Costa. Strickland provided some insight as to why the fight with Costa never materialized during an interview with The Schmo.
"I called you out [Paulo Costa] multiple times before anything, and the UFC said ‘f*** no’, meaning I’m gonna beat the s*** out of you and they don’t want me to fight you. That’s what happened, I will show you the messages to them saying no I can’t fight you. So Costa, go f*** yourself and if I see you in Vegas, and you wanna run this s*** back, anytime you f***ing want dude let’s f***ing go. You don’t even need to make weight."
Costa has not fought since an October loss to Marvin Vettori. Ahead of the bout, Costa came in embarrassingly overweight, forcing the bout to shift from a middleweight contest to the light heavyweight division.
“The Guy"s a F*cking Savage"
In a separate interview with Helen Yee, Strickland discussed why he is excited to face Pereira over another top ranked contender like Costa.
"The f*cking guy knocked out Izzy. The guy’s a f*cking savage," Strickland said in an interview with Helen Yee. "I actually kind of enjoy, and I’ll tell you why. (Paulo) Costa, to me, is an easy paycheck. All my last fights, all great men, all solid f*cking dudes. But walking into those fights, you’re kind of just like, ‘I’m better than you, I’m better than you, I’m better than you.’
"With Alex, it’s kind of like this scary thing. It kind of gets me excited. You see him, you’re like, ‘Oh man, you’re a big, scary-looking kickboxer, I want to fight you.’ So I do like the fact that he does have that unknown factor – new blood."
Are you excited to see Pereira jump the line and fight Strickland or do you believe this fight is too soon?
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images