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Alex Pereira plans for training, English lessons with Sean Strickland


Alex Pereira does not make enemies with former opponents, not even the ones who regularly spew obscenities.

Pereira plans to host former octagon foe Sean Strickland in advance of the middleweight veteran’s UFC Vegas 76 headliner opposite Abusupiyan Magomedov.

“I’m actually giving you breaking news right now,” Pereira said via translator on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “Sean Strickland’s coming to Connecticut next week for one week to train with me for his next fight. I’m going to learn English with Sean Strickland.”

The latter announcement is the stoic Pereira’s joke about Strickland’s largely toxic presence online. The 32-year-old American, ranked No. 10 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings at 185 pounds, is a walking NSFW feed on Twitter. To Pereira, who knocked him out cold in their UFC 276 meeting, he’s a bit nicer.

“He’s a bit crazy, but he’s a nice guy,” Pereira said. “He talks against people, but he always treats me with respect.”

Strickland previously reached out to Pereira for training help, but schedules kept them apart. Strickland has been identified as a future contender for middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, Pereira’s four-time opponent in kickboxing and MMA – and probably the closest thing he’s had to a rival.

Pereira is in a good position to advise Strickland in the event of a title shot. Perhaps even better, he’s honest about the American’s chances.

“It’s a hard fight,” Pereira said. “Honestly speaking, anyone can go over there and swing something and happen to knock the guy out. But on our way to progress, winning round-by-round and dominating the class right now, I think it is very hard for anybody to do right now.”

Pereira welcomed a trilogy MMA fight with Adesanya, whom he knocked out at UFC 281 before returning the title at UFC 287 in a rematch. Instead, he announced his move up to the light heavyweight division, booking a fight against ex-light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291. The shift in direction isn’t keeping him up at night.

“No, I move on from here,” Pereira said. “I can’t keep holding grudges on that because, otherwise it would not benefit me on my next fight. So I gotta let it go. I thought, re-thought about everything that happened to study everything, and the fact that I beat him three times made me feel a little better about it. So let’s just move on to the next one.”

Pereira’s easygoing attitude toward Adesanya could be seen this past week when the two ran into each other several times at an airport while going through security. He approached the middleweight champ with a pitch for some content to entertain MMA fans, and to his surprise, Adesanya was thinking the same thing.

The “run-in” was about as wholesome as you can get for two former opponents who’ve traded hundreds of punches.

Pereira still thinks they’ll fight again one day.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I just took a break because he already made [middleweight] about 50 times, so I’m going to see how it goes in the next two, three fights. Maybe we fight at light heavyweight, maybe we’ll fight at middleweight. From now on, I want to let everybody know, I’m able to make [185 pounds] any time I want. But the way that I was making the weight over and over again in a short span of time, I needed a break so my body can perform better in the weight class.”

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