Sean Strickland (25-3; 12-3 in the UFC), ranked #4 in the middleweight division, is set to fight unranked Alex Pereira (5-1; 2-0 in the UFC) at UFC 276 this weekend.
Sean Strickland is a self-proclaimed psychopath who enjoys getting hit and simply loves the sport of fighting. Meanwhile, Alex Pereira is a former Glory kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight double-champion, who is 2-0 over the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, in kickboxing. While Strickland has the experience and affinity for wars, Pereira is relatively new to the sport of MMA. Albeit the case, a win for either man in this match will likely earn him a shot at the title, so this is a fight you definitely do not want to miss!
UFC 276 is a PPV event and will stream only on
Reverting back to Strickland’s last fight against Jack Hermansson, not much has changed relative to the lead-up to that fight when analyzed to this. What I mean by this is that Strickland is an oxymoron when it comes to fighting, whereby his skills are very technically sound and he is quite pragmatic in the octagon, but when certain moments present themselves to him, he will let out his inner psychopath and throw out technique under the preface of fight enjoyment. This switch from technique to brief moments of war-like affinity is the embodiment of who Strickland is as a fighter, and why he is on a 6-fight win streak.
The technical side of Strickland’s fight game is sound boxing technique that allows him to throw in combination with frequency and speed. Choosing speed over all-out power seems completely off given the personality of Strickland, but he has shown time after time that he is far more concerned with landing cleanly than with all-out power. Electing to do so is quite smart given Strickland will keep a pace and pressure that will eventually wear down his opponent, and at that point, the damage of his strikes really begins to come to the surface. This pace and pressure also allow Strickland to control the octagon, and he is able to do so throughout the duration of the fight given he will not back away from a counter-attack nor will he be susceptible to being taken to the mat – 85% TD def. Lastly, having constant pressure allows him to have success in shooting a takedown himself, and although he greatly favors striking, Strickland has shown a willingness to successfully wrestle if the opportunity arises.
Having strong cardio, a relentless pace and sound boxing are all extreme positives for Strickland. But, he does have glaring weaknesses – to his credit, he has overcome them to earn wins. The most notable weakness, particularly in this fight, is having a slow-moving, hyper-vertical stance. This stance allows his opponent to land kicks with relative ease, and in this fight, wearing kicks is the worst thing for Strickland. The other weakness of Strickland is the mere fact he does not have one-punch power. Now, this does not mean Strickland is completely inept to ever land a punch that KO’s his opponent, but, what it does mean is that his power threat of Strickland is nowhere near that of other middleweight contenders. Lacking this threat will allow his opponent to confidently strike against him which is a dangerous proposition in this particular fight.
Saying Alex Pereira has confidence in his striking would be a vast understatement. This is largely due to him having world-class kickboxing experience, and he has seen this experience translate over to MMA quite well. Interesting, albeit he beat Adesanya in kickboxing and is attempting to challenge for the belt in the near future, Pereira’s style of striking does differ from that of the champ. Notably, Pereira throws with extreme power and ill-intentions behind nearly every strike contrary to that of Adesanya using a speed-precision form of intent. The benefit for Pereira is that at any moment of the fight he can greatly damage his opponent and get the finish. This benefit is indeed important, particularly with knowing the longer Pereira is in the octagon, the greater the chance he will be taken to the mat – the last place he wants to be. Even while this is the case, and even with knowing he has elite power behind a plethora of strikes, he has shown to take a fair amount of time to capitalize on the advantage of the fight being a standing affair, and this passive nature is cause for concern because the root cause is likely far more fear of being taken to the mat contrary to simply looking for an open shot.
Fear of being taken down is justified given nearly every opponent he will face will try to do so. In his last fight, Pereira showed improvement with combating the takedown, but the opponent was not touted as being a strong wrestler. Moreover, Pereira did show difficulty in escaping clinch positions against the cage, and this position of clinch-wrestling and/or clinch-striking is quite a strong attribute of Strickland’s fight game. So, in this fight, Pereira will need to show – continued – improvement by keeping the fight standing, and if done, he will have the clear advantage on the feet.
I find myself wavering back and forth with how the fight will take shape. The speed of Pereira’s kicks with extremely powerful hands against the hittable Strickland lends me believing he will win early; but if Strickland can cut the distance, he can maintain close-range tactics to grind his way to a victory. From a gambling lens, I like a double play on Pereira to win in rounds 1 or 2 and Strickland to win by decision. From a strict “who will win” perspective, I favor the more dangerous fighter with respect to damage and ending the night before the scheduled 15 minutes is completed, as such I am choosing to back the inexperienced Pereira in this matchup.
Pick: Pereira to win in round one or two (+135 odds at BetUS)
UFC 276 is a PPV event and will stream only on