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. I already know. Because the styles. Styles make fights and Alex is getting better, better and better.”
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 knows Pereira still has plenty more to learn, but he’s already quite educated when it comes to the transition he’s made to MMA after being considered one of the best kickboxers on the planet.
“The guy’s fighting IQ is so high,” Teixeira said about Pereira. “He’s so smart. You don’t understand. This guy’s a genius when it comes to fighting. He was talking to Lyoto [Machida], and Lyoto said that the things that he said to him are the things Lyoto’s father said to him. He learns so fast.”
In his first two fights with the UFC, Pereira has scored a vicious second-round knockout, which earned him a “Performance of the Night” bonus in his debut before picking up a unanimous decision victory over fellow striker Bruno Silva in his previous outing.
The upcoming bout with Strickland will be a huge step up in competition as Pereira faces an established veteran on a six-fight winning streak including victories over proven contenders like Jack Hermansson, Uriah Hall and Krzysztof Jotko.
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.
Of course, Teixeira acknowledges that Pereira still has more to learn when it comes to his grappling game ,but there’s not a single doubt in his mind when it comes to how he’ll fare in a potential fight against Adesanya.
“For Adesanya, [Alex Pereira] was ready before he got in the UFC,” Teixeira said. “He was ready for [Adesanya] the first fight he had in the UFC. Because of that style. I don’t think Adesanya has the ground to beat him. It’s going to be a striking battle.”
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