While the championship focus was on the main event, the international Fight Week-staged pay-per-view had another intriguing 185-pound clash, and it certainly had title implications attached.
While Strickland, a presence in the Octagon since 2014, was looking to secure his first shot at gold in the promotion with a seventh consecutive win, relative newcomer and then-unranked middleweight Pereira was targeting a fast rise to the belt at the expense of “Tarzan.”
In one round, the UFC’s apparent desire to make the most of Pereira’s kickboxing history with champion Israel Adesanya took a big step closer to becoming reality, with “Poatan” brutally knocking Strickland out with a vicious left hook and follow-up shot.
Of course, while it’s never easy for contenders to move past a failed opportunity to secure a date with the champ, Strickland’s process was never going to be conventional…
Strickland: I’m Going Through Some Hard Times
During a recent interview with The Schmo, Strickland reflected on the loss and his feelings a few weeks on from having his lengthy win streak snapped, and his title hopes dashed.
Sporting grown hair and a beard, Strickland noted that he’s going through a phase of disappointment, almost akin to someone who’s just been dumped by their girlfriend. And as if losing the chance to face Adesanya was like losing the love of his life, “Tarzan” might resort to a bottle of liquor and a bed under a bridge.
“You know Schmo, I’m going through some hard f*cking times, man,” Strickland said. “You see the beard, the hair, you know? I might start doing drugs, I might start drinking a little bit — live under a f*cking bridge. That’s kinda how I feel right now.”
But unlike a breakup, Strickland isn’t lounging around in sweatpants — he’s back in the gym, putting in the rounds ahead of an attempt to rebound next time out.
Can Sean Strickland bounce back from his UFC 276 setback?