Sean Strickland has his eyes on the UFC middleweight champion.
Nearly one full year ago at UFC 276 in Las Vegas, Strickland was one fight away from securing his first career title shot against the reigning 185-pound kingpin Israel Adesanya. Unfortunately for “Tarzan,” he ran face-first into the thumping left hand of the future champion Alex Pereira.
The first-round knockout loss to Pereira snapped Strickland’s resurgent six-fight undefeated streak. Since then, the New Bern, Calif. native has stayed as active as possible, fighting twice with a third coming against Abusupiyan Magomedov on July 1 at UFC Vegas 76. A win for Strickland will get him back on a winning streak after defeating Nassourdine Imavov in a short-notice light heavyweight bout to kick off UFC’s 2023 calendar in January.
“If this fight [with Magomedov] goes my way, it 100 percent should be in the cards,” Strickland told My MMA News’ John Eric Poli of a title fight. “I f****** had a close decision with f******, what the f*** was that guy’s name? Jared Cannonier, you knocked some brain cells out of me. Solid guy. Thought I won on the scorecards but it is what it is.
“I truly believe I should be the one fighting ‘Izzy,’ but I lost fair and square. I’ll pay my tenants. I’ll get some W’s but yeah. That one needs to happen.”
Adesanya and the middleweight title picture are currently in between a rock and a hard place after some curious booking decisions for the summer slate of events. UFC President Dana White shared along with his announcement of Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 290 on July 8 that the winner will challenge for “The Last Stylebender’s” title. While no date has been confirmed on when that fight would happen, rumblings have indicated the September Australia return for UFC 293 is what the promotion is hoping for.
Several recently made matchups like Strickland vs. the unranked Magomedov have been met with confused reactions. Arguments have been made for Du Plessis to get the next title shot without getting through Whittaker as well as Strickland more logically needing to be paired with Paulo Costa. The latter is also next set to face an unranked prospect in Ikram Aliskerov for his next time out at UFC 291 on July 29.
Despite Strickland agreeing with the sentiment that the matchmaking is wrong, he’s not going to complain and will do his job as requested.
“It should have been me and Costa, for sure, hands down,” Strickland said. “I had no fights. They asked a couple Top 10 guys, I’m not gonna say any names but they all said no. So, the UFC gave me a choice: you sit on the bench for like six months until somebody opens up or you f****** fight and I said I want to fight, let’s make some money.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Shara's side of the story: before a match he asked his opponent not to go for a heel hook because he didn't want to risk injury and a long layoff, which his opponent supposedly agreed to, hence the emotional reaction. https://t.co/QvUn6jNirQ— Matysek (@Matysek88) May 29, 2023
Guess who I met at the airport ? pic.twitter.com/c2xr4MAVUs— Alex "Poatan" Pereira (@AlexPereiraUFC) May 29, 2023
It’s just never going to happen, is it?
Compilation: Tito Ortiz tries to pronounce “Khabib Nurmagomedov” pic.twitter.com/2Nso1OAura— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) May 29, 2023
Movsar is probably bigger.
Always the mullet.
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I’ve already got some really great in-studio guests lined up. I’ll be bringing more in via zoom each week. #tuf31— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) May 30, 2023
The goal is to give a first hand, instant reaction to the viewers where they can see how I react in real-time. #tuf31— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) May 30, 2023
Muhammad Naimov (8-2) vs. Jamie Mullarkey (16-5); UFC Vegas 74, June 3
I was all on board for Strickland taking on Adesanya before the Pereira fight. Now all that matchup will be good for is the build-up and banter... which would have still probably been the case anyway. The allure has just been lost.
Thanks for reading!
Who will Adesanya face if he does fight at UFC 293?
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Whittaker vs. Du Plessis winner
Du Plessis (UFC cancels the Whittaker fight)
Strickland vs. Magomedov winner
Strickland vs. Magomedov winner (only if it’s Strickland)
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