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Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira being finalized for UFC 277 in July

Former two-division kickboxing champion, Alex Pereira, is making a big jump up the rankings to take on No. 4-ranked Sean Strickland on July 30, 2022.

UFC 268: Hawes v Curtis Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

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 277 on July 30, 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.

This is the first bout announced for UFC 277 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.