UFC middleweight contender Sean Strickland, currently ranked No. 4 at 185 pounds, is the winner of six straight, including last February’s split decision victory over Jack Hermansson in the UFC Vegas 45 main event.
Sure, Strickland “fought like a pussy” against the rough-and-tumble “Joker,” but his existing body of work makes him eligible for the next middleweight title shot against reigning division champion Israel Adesanya.
Assuming “Tarzan” gets past red-hot Brazilian bruiser Alex Pereira at UFC 276.
That’s according to “The Last Stylebender’s” coach, Eugene Bareman, who will not be rolling out the same red carpet for Pereira even though “Poatan” holds two victories over Adesanya — including one knockout — on the kickboxing circuit.
“It would be nice for Strickland to win, because Strickland’s body of work is good enough to fight for a title. Whereas if Pereira wins, he’s still gotta do more work,” Bareman told Submission Radio. “I wasn’t involved in the fight [when Israel lost to Pereira]. So, I don’t have some deep-seeded need to go and beat up Pereira because we lost to him. We had a match with Pereira and lost fair and square in those matches. That’s the life of a fighter.”
Defeating Strickland would put Pereira at 3-0 under the UFC banner.
Adesanya was recently mocked by some of his fellow fighters, including current light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira, for drumming up excuses as to why a Pereira rematch doesn’t make sense at this stage of his combat sports career.
Bareman dismissed any talk of Adesanya being “scared.”
“I think Pereira’s just another fighter trying to make his way to the champion who’s beat the champion in a completely different sport,” Bareman continued. “I just don’t think Israel even thinks about it too hard. I definitely don’t. The only reason I say Strickland is because if Strickland wins, that’s a really clear cut contender. Whereas if Pereira wins, it’s like, well, you’ve beaten one guy, you’ve probably gotta beat some more. So, if Strickland wins, there’s a clear cut fight that we can have eight weeks later hopefully.”
Not only does Strickland need to win at UFC 276, so too does Adesanya. “The Last Stylebender” battles hulking middleweight bruiser Jared Cannonier in the July 2 headliner in Las Vegas in what could prove to be his most dangerous fight to date.
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.