Sean Strickland is not blind to the intentions of the UFC with his match against Alex Pereira.
Strickland is set to meet the former two-division kickboxing champion GLORY on Saturday at UFC 276. The controversial American is a perfect 5-0 since weighing up to 185 pounds and is currently the No. 8 ranked middleweight of MMA Fighting in the world. Pereira, on the other hand, is the owner of just five total wins throughout his MMA career, and enters the pay-per-view just 2-0 in the UFC without a single win over a ranked foe.
Despite this inexperience, UFC President Dana White has already made it clear that Pereira could be next in line for a title shot against Israel Adesanya’s winner against Jared Cannonier if he can get past Strickland, not if only because of the history Pereira and Adesanya share dating back to their kickboxing days. And it’s safe to say that Strickland understands exactly why the UFC targeted him as the man to test Pereira at UFC 276.
“If we learned anything about UFC rankings, [they] means nothing,” Strickland said Wednesday during UFC 276 media day. “At the end of the day, it means nothing. He’s the one who knocked Izzy out, so it’s like here’s what you can do: you can make him leave and then he’ll end up fighting a wrestler who will knock him down and beat him up, and then they’ll never get Izzy’s shot, or they might be like, ‘Hey, why don’t we make him fight Sean? Sean doesn’t like wrestling. maybe so [Pereira] beats it, then we could float it to the top.
“So it’s literally purely a UFC ploy, putting it against someone who likes to punch, to potentially have him pull Izzy. So UFC, I applaud you, but I could fucking wrestle.
The rivalry between Pereira and Adesanya has been on the UFC’s radar ever since Pereira debuted with a dramatic knockout of Andreas Michailidis in November 2021.
Pereira and Adesanya have fought twice before in kickboxing. When they first met in April 2016, the Brazilian won a decision over the eventual UFC champion. A year later, Pereira scored a knockout against Adesanya in their March 2017 rematch.
Still, even though Strickland knows his main benefits at UFC 276 will be on the carpet, he isn’t intimidated by the prospect of standing alongside former two-time champion GLORY.
“Here’s the thing, man. Here’s the fucking thing. Let me tell you something. There’s not a single GLORY f****** kickboxer in any f****** weight class that I couldn’t stand and punch with,” Stickland said. “So don’t fucking tell me just because you’re a big fucking Brazilian and you knocked out Izzy 20 years ago that I fucking can’t stand with you.
“Come on, fucking ******. Get out of here.”
That being said, Strickland admitted he isn’t afraid to call a beep if things start moving south quickly against Pereira at UFC 276 when the time comes.
“We’re going to find out,” Strickland said. “I don’t really enter into a game plan. I mean, obviously, if I get in there and he starts hurting me, yeah, I’m going to take the coward’s path and try to fight back.
“But I hope I can stand up and bump with that fucking scary Brazilian.”