UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira has admitted he was scared to face Sean Strickland at UFC 276.
Pereira recently capture the UFC’s 185lb title, KOing long-time rival Israel Adesanya in the final round at UFC 281. Prior to that fight, Adesanya was undefeated at middleweight, having cleared out the majority of the division. However, Pereira has revealed that his fight with Sean Strickland ‘scared’ him considerably more than the bout with ‘The Last Stylebender.’
In a recent interview with So Papos MMA, ‘Poatan’ was open about his emotions in the build to the fight with Strickland, stating:
“Talking about my last fight, [Strickland] had 25 fights, was doing well in the UFC, ranked No. 4 in the middleweight rankings, he’s dangerous, he’s experienced. I was scared, but when I heard him talk, I relaxed a little bit. He is a good fighter and an experienced one, but he was talking some stuff that didn’t make any sense.”“
For a few months since the fight was booked I had fear, but it was under control. But I’ll tell you when I was the most afraid. Everything he said and up until the weigh-in, everything was fine. When he entered the octagon and started staring at me, he hadn’t looked at me that way before. That was when I became scared.”
“He’s another person inside the Octagon, different from his normal personality,” Alex Pereira continued. “I thought ‘This guy wants to kill me’ I’m telling you, this was a different guy from everything else. But in the end it was good that he entered the octagon this way, because it woke me up, I became aware of the danger, I knew I couldn’t make mistakes. I said damn, he’s different in here, you have to be careful with this man. I went in smarter and managed to catch him.” (H/T MMA Mania)
Alex Pereira was clearly able to overcome his fear, knocking Strickland out in the first round with his signature left hook. It would be this exact same technique that ‘Poatan’ would use to begin the finishing sequence against Adesanya at UFC 281.
Now the UFC middleweight champ, despite only holding a record of 7-1, Pereira is likely set for a rematch with Adesanya, although the likes of Khamzat Chimaev are already calling out the new champ.