Israel Adesanya’s coach believes Sean Strickland a worthy title contender, but Alex Pereira has ‘to do more work’

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City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman doesn’t know if Alex Pereira beating Sean Strickland would be enough for a title shot.

Pereira (5-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) will get a big leap up in competition when he faces Strickland (25-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) on July 2 at UFC 276 on the same night that middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his title against Jared Cannonier.

With Pereira holding two kickboxing wins over Adesanya (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC), beating the streaking Strickland could result in a rubber match in MMA. However, Bareman thinks just three octagon wins for Pereira would make it too soon.

“It would be nice for Strickland to win, because Strickland’s body of work is good enough to fight for a title,” Bareman told Submission Radio. “Whereas if Pereira wins, he’s still got to do more work.”

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Bareman was not coaching Adesanya when he lost to Pereira, so he has no personal attachment to their story. He doesn’t think Adesanya does either and simply sees Strickland as a more logical option because of his resume.

“I wasn’t involved in the fight (when Israel lost to Pereira),” Bareman said. “So I don’t have some deep-seeded need to go and beat up Pereira because we lost to him. We had a match with Pereira and lost fair and square in those matches. That’s the life of a fighter. So, I don’t have a deep-seeded need to go and fight Pereira and get revenge, if that’s what you’re saying. Maybe Israel does. For him, I don’t think he does. I don’t think it concerns him at all.

“I think Pereira’s just another fighter trying to make his way to the champion, who’s beat the champion in a completely different sport. I just don’t think Israel even thinks about it too hard. I definitely don’t. The only reason I say Strickland is (worthy is) because if Strickland wins, that’s got a really clear cut contender. Whereas if Pereira wins, it’s like, well, you’ve beaten one guy, you’ve probably gotta beat some more. So, if Strickland wins, there’s a clear-cut fight that we can have eight weeks later hopefully.”