Sean Strickland is ready for his shot at UFC gold.
After dispatching Abus Magomedov in the second round of UFC Vegas 76’s main event, Strickland immediately turned his attention to the UFC middleweight title picture, where reigning champion Israel Adesanya currently sits without an opponent. With UFC 293 planned for Australia in August — and Adesanya hailing from neighboring New Zealand — it’s expected that a middleweight title fight will headline the card.
Following wins over Magomedov and Nassourdine Imavov in his past two fights, Strickland believes it’s time that he gets a chance to face Adesanya, who desperately needs new competition after running roughshod over almost every other challenger at 185 pounds.
“It needs to happen,” Strickland said at the UFC Vegas 76 post-fight press conference. “We know Izzy’s on f****** repeat. This is what the UFC said, ‘The middleweight division’s stagnant, let’s get Abus in here, he might beat Sean,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah right, motherf*****! Wait until you see what happens!’ Every time they try to bring new blood — the French guy [Nassourdine Imavov] I fought before, I sent him home. This guy, I sent him back. Every time they try to bring new blood in, I send them back. Give me the f***** title [shot], I earned it.
“I paid my dues. Give me that s***. I want the f****** title. Don’t run me around. I took Imavov on f****** three days’ notice. I f****** fought this time. I paid my f****** dues. Just give me the f****** shot.”
UFC president Dana White promised the winner of that fight a title shot, but Adesanya already holds a pair of victories over Whittaker from previous encounters. The same can’t be said for Du Plessis, who is currently riding a five-fight win UFC streak, however Strickland just doesn’t see him getting through Whittaker to earn a shot at Adesanya.
“I think Whittaker’s going to walk through Dricus,” Strickland said on the UFC Vegas 76 post-fight show. “Whittaker’s going to walk through him. We’ve seen Izzy fight everybody. We’ve seen Izzy fight all the top guys. Let’s get some fresh blood in there. Let’s throw some new meat at him. Maybe I’ve got something he don’t have. Maybe we take it into deep waters, see what’s up.
“Give me the title [shot]. You know you want to see it. You don’t want to see Dricus fight Izzy.”
Strickland knows that Adesanya has been craving new competition, which is part of the reason why Adesanya’s rivalry with ex-champion Alex Pereira took center stage for the better part of the past year as they battled it out in a pair of fights. After falling to Adesanya in April, Pereira made the decision to test the waters at light heavyweight instead, which is where he’ll compete in his next appearance at UFC 291.
That leaves limited options for Adesanya, especially if Whittaker vanquishes Du Plessis, so Strickland would like nothing more to finally hear his name get called for the title shot.
“I’m a good sport but I f****** need it,” Strickland said. “I want it. The fans want it. You f****** want it.”