Pereira ruled out involvement in Strickland’s win over Adesanya

Former UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira, who is a former opponent and sparring partner of Sean Strickland, has denied having anything to do with the American’s high-profile success, which saw him defeat Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision last weekend at UFC 293 in Sydney to become the division’s new champion.

“I noticed in the comments of the previous video that many of you are saying that I’m supporting Sean Strickland just because we are now friends and we trained together,” the Brazilian said in a video posted to the social media site. “I really can’t separate personal feelings from business, but I’ll tell you what, I spent a few days training with Sean Strickland and I saw how talented and cool he is. I realized it better during our training sessions together than I did in an actual fight with him. That’s why I was so confident that he would win.”

“Also, a lot of people say, ‘Strickland trained with Pereira and that’s why he won.’ Let’s make that clear – I had nothing to do with that. He won on his own. It’s purely his success because he’s a dedicated guy with a unique style, and he showed what he can do in the fight with Adesanya. It’s entirely his credit, and despite training together, I had nothing to do with it.”

Last July, Alex Pereira knocked out Sean Strickland in the first round and then fought twice against Israel Adesanya, finishing the Nigerian by technical knockout in the fifth round in the first fight and losing by knockout in the rematch.

After losing his championship belt, the Brazilian made his UFC bantamweight division debut with a split decision win over Jan Blachowicz, and will next fight Jiri Prochazka for the vacant title.

Strickland lost a split decision to Jared Cannonier after a loss to Pereira, and then won two fights in a row, defeating Nassurdina Imavova by unanimous decision and knocking out Abusupiyan Magomedov.

After agreeing to replace number one contender Dricus Du Plessis in the title fight, the American scored the most significant win of his career, defeating Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision 49-46 three times before nearly knocking out the Nigerian in the first round.