If Alex Pereira gets through Sean Strickland at UFC 276, he might become the No. 1 contender in the middleweight division after what would be just his third appearance in the promotion.
Despite a very small sample size in his MMA career, the former two-division GLORY champion has long been considered a future opponent for reigning 185-pound king Israel Adesanya because of their past encounters in kickboxing.
Pereira currently sports a 2-0 record over Adesanya including a vicious knockout in 2017 that served as the final kickboxing appearance for “The Last Stylebender” in the sport before making a move to MMA.
Still, Pereira has far less experience in the UFC but his friend and coach Glover Teixeira doesn’t believe that matters much, especially when it comes to another fight against Adesanya.
“Take nothing away from Adesanya, but I think Alex has been ready for Adesanya since the first fight in the UFC,” Teixeira explained on The MMA Hour. “I knew he was going to climb the ladder. It’s all I know. They are the style. Styles are the cause of fights, and Alex is improving .”
According to Teixeira, it’s the way that Pereira approaches his fights that separates him from the average MMA fighter, even with just six bouts on his entire resume.
Teixeira is aware Pereira has a lot more to learn but he knows a lot about the transition he made from kickboxing to MMA.
“The guy’s fighting IQ is so high,” Teixeira said about Pereira. He’s very smart. You don’t understand. This guy’s a genius when it comes to fighting. Lyoto was his conversation partner. Lyoto stated that Lyoto’s father had told him the same things he spoke to Lyoto . He learns so fast.”
He scored an impressive second-round knockout in both of his UFC fights. He also won a bonus “Performance of the Night” bonus. In his last bout, Pereira beat Bruno Silva unanimously.
The upcoming fight with Strickland is a significant step up in the competition. Pereira will face an experienced veteran who has a winning streak of six bouts, including wins over well-known contenders such as Jack Hermansson and Uriah Hal.
Of course, Strickland is best known for his boxing skills, which would seem to line up well for somebody like Pereira with such a rich background in the striking arts.
If Pereira is successful to build his UFC resume to 3-0, it’s impossible to know for certain if he’ll immediately earn a title shot but he definitely has a compelling argument given his history with Adesanya.
Teixeira admits Pereira has a lot to learn in grappling, but he is confident in how Pereira will fare against Adesanya.
“Adesanya was able to use [Alex Pereira] before joining the UFC,” Teixeira stated. He was prepared for [Adesanya] his first UFC fight. This is because of his style. I don’t think Adesanya has the ground to beat him. It will be an exciting battle .”