The next man to fight for 185-pound gold was potentially decided after Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira battled at UFC 276 on Saturday night.
Strickland, who’s ranked No. 4 in the middleweight division according to the official UFC standings, and the unranked Pereira battled for only a few minutes until the Brazilian landed a crushing left hook. He followed it up and put out Strickland and the referee stepped in.
Pereira fought a top-ranked fighter in only his seventh professional mixed martial arts bout, and it proved to be the right move for the former two-division Glory champion. With the win, the man known for knocking out Israel Adesanya in a kickboxing match improved his MMA record to 6-1.
When the rankings update next week, “Poatan” will likely break into the division’s top five, potentially taking over Strickland’s No. 4 rating. And don’t be surprised to see Pereira fighting for UFC gold in only his fourth Octagon appearance.
For Strickland, his impressive middleweight run has been derailed. He had gone 5-0 since moving back up to 185 pounds, however with the knockout to Pereira, his record fell to 25-4 and his momentum was snapped.
Here are some of the top Twitter reactions to Pereira’s win over the brash American:
Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier tweeted: “Alex Perreira is a bad bad boy!!!! #ufc276.”
Current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling tweeted: “This guy must have sledgehammers for fists! That was INSANE!! #UFC276.”
CBS Sports’ Luke Thomas tweeted: “Left hook by Pereira sends Sean Strickland to the land of wind and ghosts. Poatan is next for the title.”
TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter tweeted: “That is a scary, scary man.”
“Poatan just has the touch of death,” he continued If Adesanya wins, I cannot wait to see them compete with one another in MMA and I think that the betting line will be close to even.”
“The MMA Hour” host Ariel Helwani tweeted: “Gotdamn Pereira is terrifying.”
Reactions Continued to Pour in After Pereira Starched Strickland
UFC veteran Matt Brown tweeted: “I think I can speak for all fans when I say how bad we wanted to hear a Sean Strickland press conference for a title because he’s so nuts. Won’t get to see it tho bc he’s so nuts that he decided to stand right in front of Alex Perriera.”
MMA author Josh Gross tweeted: “Well … a lot of us have wanted Adesanya-Pereira in the UFC and if Cannonier doesn’t get in the way it ought to be next.”
Multiple-time UFC title challenger Kenny Florian tweeted: “Pereira basically did everything he needed tonight to get the next title shot. What a dandy of a fight that would be, Pereira v Adesanya.”
MMA Fighting’s Shaheen Al-Shatti tweeted: “OH MY LORD! Alex Pereira just DEMOLISHED Sean Strickland. Wooooow. That was brutal. #UFC276.”
MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck wrote: “WHOA! Alex Pereira just blasted Sean Strickland in the first round. That was insane, and what a statement to those who felt it was too soon for him to be in this position. #UFC276.”