UFC middleweight Sean Strickland has explained why he feels more freedom to say controversial things now than he did early on in his career.
There aren’t many figures more polarizing in MMA today than Strickland.
While he’s entertained with his gym stories, his comments on sparring heavyweight powerhouse Francis Ngannou, his view on the sport of boxing, and his unique (and perhaps partly worrying) hunger for blood and destruction inside the Octagon, he’s also caused controversy with a number of remarks that were perceived to have crossed the line by some.
But while he’s split opinion with his words and mindset outside the cage, not many can differ from the consensus view on Strickland’s fighting ability. In 27 professional fights, “Tarzan” has had his hand raised 24 times and defeated the likes of Court McGee, Brendan Allen, and Uriah Hall.
When you’ve only been beaten by reigning welterweight king Kamaru Usman, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and an Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos spinning wheel kick across 13 years, you’re doing something right…
Strickland Enjoys The Freedom To Say “Offensive Shit”
While Strickland’s reputation as an eccentric, outspoken, and outright bizarre fighter has always existed to an extent, its prominence has certainly increased in recent times.
Since putting his in-fight trash talk and vocal style on full display when he returned to action against Jack Marshman in 2020, Strickland’s antics have become more and more controversial, culminating in his comments surrounding homosexuality.
The question many will ask is where was this Strickland at the start of his UFC run? Well, he was in hiding.
During UFC Vegas 47 media day on Wednesday, “Tarzan” explained why he had to tone down his “offensive” takes early in his career.
“You know what it is? I’m getting to a point where I can say shit and not get cut from the UFC,” said Strickland. “So before, it was like, man, I wasn’t good; I couldn’t say shit cause Dana White would be like, ‘Hey, go fuck that white trash motherfucker, get him out of here.’ But now, since I’m getting a bit more like, more of a fanbase and people wanna watch me fight, I can say a lot more offensive shit, so it’s nice.”
Strickland went on to reveal his coaches and manager used to remind him not to say controversial remarks so that getting signed by the world’s premier organization remained a possibility. But now that he’s there and thriving, it’s “white trash motherfucker” from here on out.
“Every coach or manager I ever had were like, ‘Sean, shut up, they’re not gonna sign you.’ They’re like, ‘Shut up, they don’t want that, they want an image.’ And then now, I’m just gonna be the white trash motherfucker that I am, it’s nice.”
Strickland, who is unbeaten at middleweight in 18 appearances, will face his toughest test to date in the 185-pound division in this weekend’s main event. At UFC Vegas 47, he’ll be tasked with facing perennial contender Jack Hermansson.
Who will move closer to a title shot this Saturday night, Sean Strickland or Jack Hermansson?