Eric Nicksick shares hilarious story of when he realized UFC 302’s Sean Strickland was a superstar

Sean Strickland’s head coach Eric Nicksick has been along for the ride, through the good and the bad, for a long time. For Nicksick, seeing a prized pupil like the former UFC middleweight champion rise to superstar levels has been surreal.

Strickland is preparing to face Paulo Costa in a five-round co-main event at UFC 302, which takes place June 1 at the Prudential Center in Newark. It will be Strickland’s first fight since dropping the UFC middleweight strap to Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297 in January. Since his title win over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 this past September, there has been a huge shift in Strickland’s popularity.

While Nicksick was certainly aware of the rise in fandom, it wasn’t until the beginning of 2024 that he realized just how massive Strickland had gotten.

“When we were in Toronto at the [UFC 297] presser, Chris [Curtis] and I were walking and some guy yells, ‘Sean Strickland, tell me what to think!’” Nicksick told MMA Fighting, laughing. “I remember Chris Curtis looks right at me and goes, ‘Oh, God, no. Tell me I didn’t just hear that.’ He’s just got this following now, where this guy goes, ‘Sean, tell me what to think!’ And I just remember seeing Chris Curtis’ face, and Chris is just like, ‘What’s going on? We can’t have this. We cannot have this. Please.’

“I just think that fans just love his realness, man. His fights are exciting, and I think it was the [Adesanya] fight, he won a lot of fans over. But his style is very different than a lot of people. He’s not going to be going in there and knocking dudes’ heads off. He’s more of a Diaz style. He’ll pepper you up and look for the kill shots later on down the line. He’s a volume striker.”

Nicksick recently spoke on The MMA Hour about adjustments he would like to see Strickland make moving forward in his fights, including using his underrated grappling ability. Strickland has made his hay with an outstanding in-your-face, pace-heavy style, which features tremendous defense and an extremely effective jab.

Since those comments, Nicksick had a one-time UFC title challenger stop into the Xtreme Couture gym, and after working with Strickland, they completely agreed with Nicksick’s assessment that if Strickland grappled more in fights, it could lead to huge success.

Anthony Smith came in and trained with us for like a week, and Anthony was like, ‘Bro, this guy is unreal on the ground. He’s unreal. He was showing me this little thing, and this trick, and I never thought of it this way,” Nicksick explained. “And Anthony left going like, ‘Why doesn’t this guy use this as much?’ And I just looked and turned my head to the wall and just started [banging my head] on the wall. Like, ‘Dude, this is what I deal with.’”

Source link

You May Also Like