Aside from the belt fight, the UFC middleweight category this weekend at the UFC 276 event will offer another very important match for the category. Fourth-placed Sean Strickland will fight unranked Alex Pereira, and the winner of that match will most likely become the next belt challenger in that category.
It’s a bit of an illogical pairing by promotion, as Pereira has only two UFC wins behind him and thus jumps down the stairs to the top. Still, it’s more than clear that the UFC wants to pair Pereira with Adesanya because of all the history between them.
Something will still be asked of Sean Strickland. The 31-year-old American fighter debuted in the middleweight division in late October 2020. Five wins in a row were recorded by Strickland in that category, and if we add one in the welterweight that he registered before moving to the middle category, the winning streak reaches up to six victories.
Sean broke through to the very top of the challenger rankings and one victory separates him from attacking the title. Aside from very good martial arts, Strickland has become extremely popular on social media in the last year or two.
He is a fighter who often shares very controversial statements and likes to share some videos from sparring. Strickland is known as a fighter who likes to pair at full strength and doesn’t care too much about the consequences.
Israel Adesanya commented on Strickland
"Sean Strickland. He's a bad m***erf***er. Like, literally bad. Rotten apple. But I like the guy, he's funny and he likes to talk shit as well. And his stand-up, I've seen him do more damage on YouTube in sparring than in his fights.
Put it that way. I've seen his sparring footages and I would never spar with an idiot like that. I've hurt people in sparring before and I'm just like, 'Shit, my bad' Or I'll pull back with the body shot or whatever but I've seen what he does...
He's got many screws loose, many screws loose." Izzy explained. The fact is that Strickland really shows a different approach in sparring than what we’ve seen through the last two performances. In the matches against Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson, Strickland was not so aggressive, which proves that he is very aware of what he is doing inside the cage and is tactically disciplined, despite the nature that does not give such an impression.
What kind of Strickland we will watch this weekend against Alex Pereira, we will find out in the early hours of Sunday. It is not ruled out that Sean will turn into a "grappler" this time, considering that Alex Pereira is one of the best kickboxers in the world.