At UFC 276 Alex Pereira pleasantly surprised everyone by knocking out Sean Strickland in the first round. Some think the UFC has been working an inside operation to push the Brazilian into challengin Adesanya for the title considering he was unranked going into UFC 276, and that Strickland was the No. 4 middleweight in the world.
On a recent episode of his podcast, Brendan Schaub made an observation. Despite Pereira’s extensive kickboxing experience and the fact that he had previously defeated Izzy twice, the UFC has never made it possible for an unranked fighter to make a splash and ultimately get a title chance.
Of course Schaub here, is heavily leaning into the fact that Strickland personally predicted this outcome.
Prior to the bout Strickland called the UFC on their tactics saying:
“So this is literally purely just a ploy by the UFC, putting him against somebody who likes to strike, to potentially get him an Izzy shot. So, UFC, I applaud you, but I might f****** wrestle.”
But sadly his foresight didn’t outdo his ego and he also believed in his ability to match Pereira.
“There’s not one Glory f*cking kickboxer in any f*cking weight class that I can’t stand and bang with,” Strickland said.
According to Schaub, even Brock Lesnar was not always given the most straightforward opponents.
“A part of me is a little resentful to Alex Pereira because he’s only had what three fights? And they’re literally just doing the easiest match-ups to get him to Izzy,”
I don’t think we’ve ever seen this.”
“I have a bit of a problem where the UFC is fast tracking him just to get to eat Izzy and give him the perfect matchups in order to get there.”
“He’s just getting spoon-fed to these guys just to get to Izzy. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this.”
“The other thing to me it’s so short-sighted but also shows you how dominant Izzy is where there’s nothing else for him. The UFC is like, ‘We have to do something here, man.’ Someone’s like, ‘Alright, let’s get this Alex Pereira kid in here who’s beat him twice back in the day and kickboxing only.’”
“There’s a narrative there like ‘yeah but how are we gonna get him there? Just give him the easiest fights possible, the perfect matchups.’”
Of course Schaub is neglecting to acknowledge how the UFC has changed as of late – in addition to how they also operate.
Previously Adesanya got streamlined and basically captured the middleweight title after just a year in the division. Not to mention that prior to Adesanya, Anderson Silva also got streamlined to the title.
And even if we put the history aside – UFC just crowned Jiri Prochazka – a UFC champion with less than 3 UFC bouts under his belt. Not to mention that Michael Chandler was given a title shot within a year of joining the promotion.
Schaub added that even if Pereira were to succeed in unseating Izzy, he wouldn’t have a chance against any of the “best seven” middleweight competitors. According to Schaub, the UFC is “just fast-tracking” Pereira’s ascent. However, he hasn’t proved anything since he still did not defeat the most challenging 185-pound opponents.
He explained: “There’s a storyline there. Seeing what he did to Sean Strickland… He beat Izzy twice in kickboxing… Let’s say he beats Izzy… So you have a guy who doesn’t speak English, Brazilian champion at middleweight.”
“Okay… I challenge you guys, I f**king challenge you guys, in the top seven, who does Pereira beat? Go! You’re literally just fast-tracking a guy who doesn’t speak English because he beat Izzy 10 years ago in kickboxing… You’re trying to dethrone you’re biggest champion… for a guy who the fans really don’t know.”
Schaub’s assertions are a little difficult to accept, but he also could have a point.