Alex Pereira has only been with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for two fights, but the kickboxing champion is now getting a chance to jump to the top of the Middleweight rankings. All he has to do to punch that ticket is beat No. 4-ranked Sean Strickland in a fight that UFC is targeting for UFC 276 on July 2, 2022.
That news comes via ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, who reports multiple sources confirmed the world’s leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization was in the process of “finalizing” a bout between the two strikers.
Strickland is on a six-fight win streak and was in the running for a Middleweight title shot before a tentative decision win over Jack Hermansson in his first main event led to Jared Cannonier getting the nod instead. Now, he’ll have to fight the unranked Pereira, whose 2-0 UFC / 5-1 MMA resume may seem short ... until you take into account his 33-7 kickboxing record and status as a former GLORY Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion.
Even more interestingly, Pereira holds two kickboxing wins over current 185-pound champion Israel Adesanya — a decision win from 2016 and a knockout win from 2017. That’s the only knockout Adesanya ever suffered and marked his final kickboxing fight before moving full-time into MMA competition.
The only man to stop Israel Adesanya is now in the UFC.— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) September 9, 2021
Alex Pereira knocked out the middleweight champ in the Stylebender's last kickboxing match.
Poatan makes his MMA debut at UFC 268 pic.twitter.com/4qLis4dndm
This is the first bout announced for UFC 276 and it’s quite the banger. But, not everyone is excited about the match up. Former Middleweight contender-turned unwilling Light Heavyweight (details here), Paulo Costa, had been calling for a fight with Strickland, and he responded to the announcement by calling Sean a “rat.”
It’s still unclear as to whether UFC will even allow Costa to compete at Middleweight for his next fight, given that “Borrachinha” turned up grossly overweight to his bout against Marvin Vettori in Oct. 2021.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 276 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 276: “Adesanya vs. Cannonier” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.