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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Alex Pereira celebrates after his TKO victory against Andreas Michailidis in their middleweight bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Mike Stobe / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

A pair of surging UFC middleweights will look to secure a shot at the divisional crown on Saturday, as Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira are set to clash on the main card of UFC 276. Have a look at our Strickland-Pereira picks below before this weekend’s event.

Mere minutes before Israel Adesanya puts his middleweight strap on the line against Jared Cannonier in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 276, Strickland and Pereira will look to cement themselves as the next challenger to the throne on the bill’s main card. The streaking Strickland has won six straight on the strength of his crisp boxing, while Pereira heads to Vegas with a solid kickboxing pedigree and a pair of impressive promotional victories to his name.

Will Strickland’s combination punching and underrated grappling be enough to prolong his streak, or will Pereira dazzle with his varied striking and keep his UFC record unblemished?

Here are my Strickland-Pereira picks and predictions for Saturday's UFC 276 (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Strickland vs. Pereira Fight Info

Date: Saturday, July 2, 10:00 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Strickland vs. Pereira Odds Analysis

Despite trailing Strickland in MMA experience by over 20 pro fights, Pereira heads to the world fight capital as a slight favorite, with Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and PointsBet all listing the Brazilian at -120, while Strickland sits at +100 with those same sportsbooks and +102 with FanDuel.

The 34-year-old Pereira has dispatched four of his five MMA victims via strikes, and you’ll find a fifth KO/TKO for Pereira at a compelling +160 with FanDuel. As for Strickland, the California product has earned four of his six straight wins on points, so if you’re siding with his in-cage experience, a decision win may pique your interest at +280 with FanDuel.

Sean Strickland Betting Profile

Strickland abandoned the rough cuts to 170 pounds in 2020, and he’s since settled in beautifully at middleweight, scoring a stoppage victory of Brendan Allen (at a catchweight) and besting seasoned competition in Krzysztof Jotko, Uriah Hall, and, most recently, Jack Hermansson on the scorecards.

As a welterweight, Strickland often dazzled with his crisp and active jab but struggled to piece his combinations together, but he heads to Vegas a far different fighter. Indeed, the 31-year-old has relied on volume striking to build his impressive six-fight win streak, and he’ll need it to earn Pereira’s respect as soon as the cage door shuts if he’s to extend his run on Saturday night.

Alex Pereira Betting Profile

Pereira’s 40-fight kickboxing record includes a KO of UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya, and both UFC diehards and the company brass are pining for him to secure a dance with the champ in four-ounce gloves with a win this weekend.

The Brazilian’s promotional stint comprises a stunning knockout of Andreas Michailidis and a hard-fought decision over Bruno Silva, but he’s now tasked with his stiffest MMA test yet in the surging Strickland. As the taller and longer fighter in this middleweight matchup, Pereira will likely try to dictate the distance and slowly dissect Strickland from kickboxing range throughout Saturday’s contest.

Strickland vs. Pereira Picks

  • Strickland (+102) ???
  • Strickland by decision (+280) ??

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Strickland vs. Pereira Predictions

Strickland (+102)

I’m going with Strickland in this one, since he has more ways to win. As much as I’d love to see Pereira and Adesanya eventually sling leather in the Octagon, I think a maturing Strickland will rely on his crisp striking and dormant grappling in equal measure to put the kibosh on the aforementioned dream pairing.

Granted, trading zingers with a purebred striker in Pereira is daunting for even elite middleweights. But if Strickland takes the center and makes the Brazilian’s length a non-factor with pressure, he may very well earn his foe’s respect, which will make a few crucial, round-stealing takedowns much easier to come by.

Strickland by decision (+280)

Strickland’s always been busy with the lead hand, and he’ll need to stick it in Pereira’s face early and often if he’s to keep the kickboxer honest. As long as he’s the one pushing the pace and throwing more volume, Strickland should find openings to threaten a few takedowns, and whether he can put Pereira on his back or not, those shots should put a dent in Pereira’s volume, make him reluctant to open up, and allow Strickland to remain the busier fighter en route to a hard-fought - albeit ugly - decision win.

Where to Bet on Strickland vs. Pereira Picks

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Strickland-Pereira picks made on 6/28/2022 at 8:42 p.m. ET.