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Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira full fight preview | UFC 276

UFC Fight Night: Pereira v Silva Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight strikers Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira will go to war this weekend (Sat., July 2, 2022) at UFC 276 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Is this a sneaky title eliminator match right beneath our noses? Strickland is riding a considerable wave of momentum, having won six in a row to remain unbeaten at 185 pounds. Currently ranked inside the Top Five, one more major win might just be enough for Strickland to earn a showdown versus the main event victor. Pereira, meanwhile, is on the fast track to a title shot. The 34-year-old powerhouse is just two wins into his UFC career, but those kickboxing victories over Israel Adesanya certainly count for something. At this point, he’s one of the only believable threats to Adesanya’s crown.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

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BLOCKBUSTER WELTERWEIGHT REMATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sat., Aug. 20, 2022, for the first time in more than five years, headlined by a blockbuster Welterweight championship bout that will see Kamaru Usman run it back with No. 2-ranked contender, Leon Edwards. In UFC 278’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, No. 4-seeded Middleweight contender, Paulo Costa, aims to spoil the return of former 185-pound champion, Luke Rockhold. And last but not least, former Featherweight champion and all-time great, Jose Aldo, returns to Bantamweight action, too!

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Sean Strickland

Record: 25-3
Key Wins: Jack Hermansson (UFC Vegas 47), Uriah Hall (UFC Vegas 33), Brendan Allen (UFC Vegas 14), Krzysztof Jotko (UFC Vegas 25), Nordine Taleb (UFC Fight Night 138), Tom Breese (UFC 199)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 210), Elizeu Zalaeski dos Santos (UFC 224), Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC Fight Night 61)
Keys to Victory: Strickland is a deceptively smart boxer. His defense is actually quite good, as Strickland is able to slip and roll with shots far better than most, allowing him an extra level of comfort in the pocket. He throws a lot of punches, and Strickland’s grappling is also rather underrated.

Defense will certainly matter here because Pereira hits like a truck. One clean left hook to the chin is all it takes, particularly now that the Brazilian is equipped with four ounce gloves. While Strickland has to keep up his output and press the kicker, he also has to keep the legitimacy of the threat in front of him in mind.

Strickland is not going to defeat Pereira in a kickboxing match. He does, however, have a fair shot at winning by making this a full mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. That means takedown attempts, clinch wrestling, calf kicks, elbows on the break — every moment between striking and wrestling is an opportunity for Strickland. Notably, Strickland historically has some devastating ground striking if able to gain top position, so a single completed takedown could really change the dynamic of the fight.

Alex Pereira

Record: 5-1
Key Wins: Bruno Silva (UFC Vegas 50), Andres Michalidis (UFC 268)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Pereira destroys people with strikes. His left hook is infamous, one of those rare shots that could seemingly fell a horse. Inside the Octagon, Pereira’s takedown defense and general grappling have really impressed, likely an outcome of training extensively with Glover Teixeira.

Pereira faces a man who’s going to walk straight to him; it’s what Strickland does! Generally, Pereira can annihilate anyone who stands in front of him for too long without expending a ton of effort, but he shouldn’t expect to simply blow Strickland out of the water — he’s Top Five for a reason.

Instead, I’d like to see Pereira show off a bit more movement than usual. He’s got a sharp lead hand even outside that left hook, so making Strickland move through that range to close distance would be smart. Plus, Pereira has powerful kicks, and Strickland’s boxing stance consistently leaves his calf exposed.

Poke Strickland with jabs and calf kicks, then let him walk into a fight-finisher.

Bottom Line

Provided Israel Adesanya retains, a title shot is very likely on the line.

Consider this match up Strickland’s trial run for a shot at “Stylebender.” What does Strickland, a boxer, bring to the table for that potential match up? Even I’m not entirely sure, but against a different elite kickboxer in Pereira, Strickland has an opportunity to make his argument and show how he’d take out the current Middleweight kingpin.

Pereira’s not a perfect stylistic substitute for Adesanya, but he’s good enough.

As for Pereira, that storyline writes itself! Already, there are rumors about Adesanya avoiding this fight, even though Pereira has done absolutely nothing to actually earn a title shot. Defeating No. 4-ranked Strickland is certainly a bit more than nothing, however, as it would legitimize Pereira’s opportunity to challenge for gold.

Two elite kickboxers with bad blood and history fighting for a UFC title? That would sure sell a lot of pay-per-view (PPV) units!

At UFC 276, Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira will square off. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?

Remember that 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.