In his first fight since suffering a quick knockout loss to Pereira (6-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) in their title eliminator at UFC 276 in July, Strickland (25-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) is set to face Jared Cannonier (15-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night 216 main event, which takes place Dec. 17 at the UFC Apex and streams on ESPN+.
It’s an important fight for Strickland, who prior to being halted by the now-UFC middleweight titleholder Pereira, had been on a six-fight winning streak and was on the cusp of a title opportunity. Strickland received much criticism for the way in which he approached the fight with the former two-division GLORY kickboxing champion, because he didn’t attempt a single takedown before being dropped and stopped inside three minutes.
In Strickland’s mind, there’s not a whole lot of regret about the way it unfolded. He thinks he can win the matchup with Pereira even going toe-to-toe, and if he’s able to eventually secure a rematch, said his tactics would essentially be the same.
“The guy f*cking hits hard, dude,” Strickland told MMA Junkie on Tuesday. “That motherf*cker, he has dynamite in his hands but got to get a couple wins under my belt, and hopefully he’s still the champ and we’ll run it back.
“He’s a f*cking big motherf*cking Brazilian who hits like dynamite. F*ck. I’ll give you guys a pointer: You stand in front of that motherf*cker and bang, somebody is going to sleep and it’s most likely going to be you. If I fight the guy again, I’d do the same f*cking thing. Just put this (right) hand a little more (up).”
Strickland said he thinks he’s “a few” wins away from securing his first UFC championship opportunity, but it all depends on the landscape of the division. It’s expected that Pereira’s first defense will be a rematch with Israel Adesanya, then the winner of the UFC 284 fight between Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa is probably ahead of him in line, as well.
That’s not much of an issue for Strickland, he said, but at the moment his focus is entirely on Cannonier. Strickland is expecting a grueling fight, and he relishes the danger factor Cannonier and his knockout power brings to the table.
“How would you guys feel with that big, scary mothrf*cker looking back at you trying to kill you?” Strickland said. “It’s exciting. I can’t wait.”