Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby is no stranger to being seen at UFC events, and prior to this NFL season, Crosby wanted to test himself in new ways.
So he chose to spar current UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland.
“Every year I try and find new things in the offseason to get better at,” Crosby said Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show. “Sean Strickland, he’s the [UFC] middleweight champ now, we did three rounds of sparring and we beat the s*** out of each other, just testing myself in different ways. [I’m] not questioning, ‘Oh, am I going to be OK surviving situations?’ No, I’m going to go in 10 toes and see how it goes.
“That’s really what my whole offseason was about; just try new things and be uncomfortable.”
Crosby is one of the celebrity faces often shown in the crowd at UFC events and is a huge fan of the sport.
The two-time NFL Pro Bowler explained how the sparring session with Strickland came together, as he says he has a long standing relationship with the current 185-pound champion.
“Me and Strickland have been boys for a long time,” Crosby explained. “When he first got into the UFC, I was a fan. I’d seen him fight a few times, he’s in the octagon talking s*** while he’s fighting and I’m like, ‘Who is this dude?’ We had a relationship for years, and all of a sudden, he keeps winning, winning, winning, and then now he’s fighting Izzy for the title.
“NFL Films calls and they say, ‘Hey, we want to get a behind the scenes of how you train, do you have anyone you can spar with?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I know Sean Strickland and he’s my buddy, but he’s like notorious for being a horrible sparring partner because he goes in there and actually tries to knock people out.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, bet, I’ll show up.’
“We do this whole thing, have a whole camera crew in there, no mouthpiece, no head guard, nothing. We did three three-minute rounds and we were banging. My nose was messed up for two weeks straight, but we were cracking. I have all the footage and everything. It was a real fight, we were out there swinging.”
While Crosby is the bigger, stronger athlete — weighing more than 250 pounds — he says he landed some good, clean shots during the nine-minute battle, but also admits that Strickland got the nod on the hypothetical, yet nonexistent judges’ scorecards.
“Obviously he got the better of me, he’s a UFC world champion,” Crosby said. “I definitely landed some check hooks, I will say that, and the fact that I landed some, I gave him a little cut on his lip, I was proud of it.
“That guy is a maniac.”