Sean Strickland explains how detaching from MMA helped change the course of his UFC career: ‘I didn’t want to lose any validation’

By Curtis Calhoun - May 29, 2024

Former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland made a mental switch earlier in his career that has led to his surge into a star.

Sean Strickland

Strickland will face former UFC middleweight title challenger Paulo Costa in the UFC 302 co-main event on Saturday in Newark. He returns to fight in a five-round clash after losing the middleweight belt to Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297 earlier this year.

Strickland, who has emerged as a UFC fan favorite in recent years, had had a long winding road to the top of the 185lb division. Once thought of as an afterthought, he’s evolved as a fighter over his recent outings and is one of the most technical boxers in the promotion.

While Strickland is known for his brash persona, he’s dealt with a fair amount of adversity in and out of the cage. His career and life almost ended in a serious motorcycle accident as ascended the UFC ranks.

Strickland opened up on how that moment changed the trajectory of his life forever.

Sean Strickland opens up on the twists and turns of UFC career

During his UFC 302 media day press conference, Strickland was asked to explain what changed during his UFC run.

“It sounds funny, but I care way less [now],” Strickland admitted. “Prior to my motorcycle accident, the only thing in my life that I’ve ever accomplished and that amounted to anything, was having [the UFC logo] in my Instagram bio. Once that was potentially taken from me, I had to really look at my life prior to that, and my build myself up. Now, I’ll give you an example…a guy came into the gym the other day, he lost his job, was working at Apple for nine years. The hardest thing he had to do was build himself back up…

“As a man, we put our worth into titles…that’s how it kind of was with me. All I was, was the f**** logo. Two weeks out from a fight, I’d think about the fight and be up until 3 a.m. thinking ‘What can I do?’. It wasn’t the fight, I didn’t want to lose any validation I had in being a man. The only accomplishment I had, I didn’t want to lose. And after the motorcycle accident, I detached from Sean the UFC fighter…and I’m happy, and my worth isn’t linked to [the sport]. I just enjoy what I do, now.”

A win over Costa could be enough to earn Strickland another shot at the UFC middleweight belt. Du Plessis is expected to face Israel Adesanya later this year, leaving Strickland as the potential next man up.

Strickland’s UFC career ascent is unprecedented, and he plans on making more history this weekend. He admitted that he had to make a slew of changes to his mindset after one of the hardest chapters of his life.

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


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