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Morning Report: Chael Sonnen: Sean Strickland deserves ‘pass’ for UFC 276 loss, ‘he gave you what you wanted’

MMA: JUL 02 UFC 276 Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sean Strickland’s approach in his recent loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 276 this past weekend has been highly questioned since fight night.

Heading into the likely No. 1 contender bout in the middleweight division, the strategy for Strickland — and any Pereira opponent — seems obvious; try and take him down. A kickboxing world champion at the highest level, Pereira, 35, has been nearly flawless throughout his young MMA career winning six straight since his lone loss that came in his professional debut.

This fresh result has gained the brash and outspoken Strickland plenty of criticism, but three-time UFC title challenger, Chael Sonnen, doesn’t feel it’s necessarily fair with all things considered.

“Should we give Sean Strickland a pass?” Sonnen asked on his YouTube channel. “You know I’m giving him one, right? You know what a believer I am in Sean Strickland. I feel terrible for him, I really do.

“Sean did not do the one thing I needed him to do to make my prediction true that Sean Strickland can deal with this guy, including in the striking. Sean Strickland can go out and kickbox with this guy. Sean Strickland can beat this guy. Sean Strickland can be the No. 1 contender. For those things to be true I only need one thing, I need the threat of a takedown. I need for Sean to not come out and make it clear we have an unwritten agreement, and the agreement is we’re gonna stand here and we’re gonna trade punches and kicks. I need the threat of a takedown.”

As the fight began, Strickland walked the Brazilian down as he attempts to do with most opponents. Finding some success early on, Pereira utilized his range and volume before ultimately sealing the deal mid-way through round one with a pinpoint left hook and some follow-up punches, snapping the six-fight streak of “Tarzan’s.”

Strickland arguably stole the whole fight week building up to UFC 276, claimed Sonnen. At the pre-fight press conference, a lot of the shine and buzz generated came from the back-and-forth the New Bern, N.C. native had with the current champion, Israel Adesanya. Unfortunately for Strickland, he couldn’t follow through but gave the fans exactly what they wanted to see, in a way.

“I can’t give Sean too hard of a time in fairness because the fight was so short,” Sonnen said. “We don’t know what was to come. We’re only looking at a couple minutes of fight here. Sean’s going forward, Sean hadn’t quite got down to cutting him off yet, the elevation change, some of these things could have still been in the plan and it got cut short.

“Can we give Sean a pass? I mean, Sean was trying to do what the audience really wanted to see. The audience really wanted to see this fight but if we knew Sean was just going to go out, tackle him, put him in a realm he had never been in, all the sudden they lose interest a little bit. They wanted Sean to stand and trade. That’s you guys. You were the audience. That’s what you wanted, he went out and gave you what you wanted. Is it really fair that we kick him now?”


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