Heading into UFC 276, Sean Strickland had no lack of confidence in his ability to beat former Glory Kickboxing champion Alex Pereira.
“There’s not one Glory-f-cking-Kickboxer in any f-cking weight class that I couldn’t stand and bang with,” Strickland told fans and media at the UFC 276 pre-fight presser. Later he ribbed Adesanya for getting knocked out by Pereira.
“Hey, Izzy, why don’t you tell me what not to do,” Strickland joked, when Adesanya said he should focus on Pereira rather than him. “What should I do, take a f-cking nap?”
Those exchanges, among others, made Strickland the central attraction of fight-week media. Unfortunately for him, however, it also added a major layer of poetic justice when the former King of the Cage champion found himself staring up at the spotlights halfway through round 1.
“Well, that sucked,” Strickland said of his KO loss to Pereira, in a short video uploaded to his Instagram channel (transcript via MMA Fighting). “You never want to be someone’s highlight, but that’s the game we play. I tried to stand and bang with one of the best kickboxers. The sh-ttiest part of it is, during the round, I kept thinking, ‘Man, this is going to be an easy fight. I see everything this guy’s throwing, I’m getting the better of the exchanges. I’m going to beat this guy up for three rounds.’ And then halfway through, I got caught. Hat’s off to Alex. He’s a f-cking killer. Thanks to all my coaches – sorry we didn’t get the win.”
“It’s depressing...I’m going to go be sad for awhile,” Strickland added. “And fans, thank you for supporting me. On to the next one. It’s time to climb up the ladder again.”
The bout puts a halt on any immediate title aspirations for Strickland, and almost certianly means a chance at gold for the Brazilian.
Although the victory over Strickland marks just the seventh pro MMA bout for the former Glory middleweight king (and just his third UFC fight), Pereira’s shared history and victories over Adesanya in the ring make for a fascinating matchup with the ‘Last Stylebender’. And who knows, maybe Strickland can pick up a few pointers on beating both men from watching that fight on the sidelines.