Adesanya must take care of business in the main event, as well. Cannonier has won five of his last six within the Las Vegas-based promotion — four via knockout — and White is expecting fireworks with the middleweight title on the line.
There’s a decent possibility that the foundation for the next middleweight title bout could be in place following the conclusion of UFC 276 on Saturday.
Given the previous history between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira — “Poatan” defeated the reigning champion twice in kickboxing bouts — there is already plenty of interest for a third meeting between the two under the UFC banner.
“I mean, both these guys came from Glory Kickboxing. Alex Pereira is a former double champion there — middleweight and light heavyweight. He’s got two wins over Israel Adesanya,” UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports.
“And, you know, he’s got two wins in the UFC right now. So taking on tough, durable, nutty Strickland, which should be a damn good fight. And if he wins, it makes a lot of sense to do the Adesanya fight.”
Alex Pereira is relatively inexperienced at the highest level of MMA, with victories over Andreas Michailidis and Bruno Silva in UFC competition thus far.
Strickland, a former King of the Cage champion who is riding a six-bout winning streak in the Octagon, will be his most significant test to date. And it just might be enough to propel the Brazilian striker to No. 1 contender at 185 pounds.
“If Alex Pereira can win this fight, [it] puts him in a very fun fight with [a] great storyline against Adesanya,” White said.
“And if you look at these two, both guys are knockout artists. Both guys have huge power. People don’t- for some reason, people don’t give Adesanya the credit for the knockouts. This guy’s got 15 wins by knockout. Cannonier has got 10 wins by knockout,” White said.
“Both guys have been criticized about their wrestling. You know, Cannonier has worked on his wrestling over the last couple of years. Stylistically, I see this as a gunfight, man. I think these two are gonna come in and start blasting each other. And this should be a very fun main event. And Adesanya, you know … he loves the belt and what it’s done for him. It’s obviously made him money and lots of other things. He’s looking for highlights now. He wants to just start finishing people with incredible finishes. So it’s got incredible written all over it.”