Sean Stickland Is Why We Love The Fight

Carter Stenberg Avatar

Written by: TheArmBartender

What a crazy couple months to lead up to this headline, eh?

Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis goes down tomorrow in Toronto, ON, and it’s an incredibly exciting card for a Canadian fight fan. The main card and prelims are all stacked with Canadian and honorary Canadian talent (shout out to Chris Curtis who made a name for himself through Z promotions in Alberta).

It’s a fun card and the main event is one of the most hotly anticipated in a long while…Du Plessis vs Strickland?Had you told me this would be a PPV Main Event for a title this time last year, I wouldn’t have believed you. I guess a lot can change in a year’s time in the fight game.

I’m sure I don’t need to rehash for you how we got here. Sean won a fight he wasn’t supposed to and Dricus was waiting his turn for the belt. Izzy retired so these two were the natural choice.

Sean Strickland has become a bit of an overnight superstar, or at least, to the casual fan he has become a sort of folk hero – an MMA populist that Colby Covington wishes he was. Sean’s background of abuse and trauma combined with an authentic, unfiltered personality constantly making the most out-of-pocket statements imaginable. In this bizarro post-covid world where UFC press conferences look like they’d belong more at home with their sister company WWE, Strickland’s authenticity is a needed breath of fresh air.

A few weeks ago, Sean Strickland really opened up about his upbringing during an appearance on Theo Von’s Podcast. Please watch if you hadn’t seen this already:

The entire podcast is worth viewing, and the 16 minute clip as well. This is just the convenient snapshot.

Lots of people have commented and spoken about this appearance, but for myself, it is hard to put into words. Seeing Sean open himself up to such a vulnerable place is a shock to the system compared to the artificial and often toxic nonsense that is typical among active UFC fighters looking to be the next McGregor. It needs to be said that what happened to Sean doesn’t validate the often brutish and bullying behaviour he often dishes out to others, but it makes him a lot easier to empathise with when you can see why he turned out the way he did.

Sean Strickland couldn’t be anything else in this life, or at least, not have found the success and platform he has now. That’s why he is the exact thing fans love about this sport so much – it is the land of the delinquent, the derelict, the outcast. Anyone can make it as long as they’re willing to fight for it. And thanks to Sean fight as a survivor of abuse, he has a platform to show others that you can push above it. Perhaps that’s a bit romantic of a take, but if just one person sees that clip and they’re able to empathise, turn their life around, or just cope with what has happened to them, Sean should be commended for what he’s done.

Don’t get it wrong though, the things that come out of Strickland’s mouth most of the time are shocking, provocative, and – calling a spade a spade – flat out wrong. The purpose of this article is not to illustrate that Sean is some anti-hero. As though his attitudes, thoughts, and opinions are in any way moral or astute. He is a flawed man…

I personally would not condone a word of what came out of Sean’s mouth before the weigh-ins.

But that is why fight fans love him so much. He is an imperfect vessel for which people can project their own insecurities and flaws onto. As much as we desire that narrative satisfaction of protagonist/antagonist, good/evil, etc, we have to remember this is a Blood Sport. People who get hit in the face for a living aren’t generally the most well-adjusted of “us.” Taking what Sean says at face value from a media perspective is strictly irresponsible, and I am sure some would argue that giving Sean an open mic is strictly irresponsible. It is definitely easier to think of the later when you see this tirade, and much easier to think of the first part when you see him openly weeping with Theo Von.

Again, this is why we love it.

Sean Strickland has won over the hearts of hardcore fight fans everywhere because he is the exact reason we all tune in. Strickland succeeds where Covington fails because he is extremely self-aware. He has no illusions about himself. He was never meant to be in the spot against Izzy. He was never meant to be in this spot against Du Plessis. Sean knows all this, and he just wants to make the most of it while he is champion.

Personally, I don’t think Sean stands a chance tomorrow against Dricus. I think recency bias has clouded the bookies’ judgement. I haven’t forgotten what Du Plessis did to Robbie Whittaker. I haven’t forgotten what Periera did to Strickland.

But then again… who thought Sean was gonna beat the most dominant Middleweight champion of all-time in such convincing fashion.No matter the result, tomorrow is going to be historic. Not the least because it is the first UFC Undisputed Middleweight Championship bout not featuring Isreal Adesanya since GSP vs Bisping in 2017 (I kid you not).

My heart and my head are in disagreement over UFC 297, but as a proud Canadian, I can say confidently that we are grateful that it happens on our doorstep.

Carter Stenberg Avatar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Articles & Posts