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This might be a wild fight in the Middleweight division, as two hopeful contenders in Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira tangle. A winner of six straight, Strickland has emerged as a worthy challenger to the title. Needing to halt the hype that is Pereira, Strickland must do everything in his power to win this fight. Even if means wrestling. Meanwhile, Pereira comes into this on a five-fight win streak. With only two of those wins coming inside the octagon, clearly Pereira has been fast-tracked to a title shot. One that the UFC would like to get behind, as pending Israel Adesanya wins, it would pit former Kickboxing opponents against each other – with the significance being that Pereira not only beat Adesanya twice, but knocked him out once.

When analyzing this fight, it really comes down to Strickland’s willingness to forgo making this an entertaining scrap and trying to knock out Pereira. The Brazilian has only six professional fights, comes from a kickboxing background and notably isn’t well versed in wrestling. Thus far, his takedown defense has held up. However, it’s held up against two strikers. Strickland being well rounded and having shown off his wrestling throughout his UFC tenure, one can only imagine that with a title shot within grasp, he would elect to play it smart. While some might question that notion given his antics, I actually believe that when he’s inside the octagon, he becomes very cerebral. A recent example being his last bout, where he never strayed from an effective jab that practically pieced up Jack Hermansson over five rounds.

IF Strickland decides to strike and hunt for the knockout, Pereira will show him the exit. However, if Strickland plays it smart and wrestles, I believe he will win. Going with the latter, I predict that Strickland wins via decision.

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