Daniel Cormier believes Sean Strickland continues to be ignored as a champion.
Strickland defeated Israel Adesanya in five rounds in September to win the UFC middleweight title in one of the most shocking results of 2023. The 32-year-old champion is currently scheduled to make his first defense of the belt against Drikas du Plessis at UFC 297 on January 20th, but du Plessis isn’t the only fighter with a shot at Strickland’s title. UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards recently hinted that he might seek a second belt at middleweight against the winner of Strickland vs. Du Plessis, but Edwards later said that winning two weight classes is not an immediate goal and is in the future. stated that the goal is
But in Cormier’s eyes, Edwards’ comments are telling — and he believes Edwards isn’t the only one who sees Strickland as an easier path to UFC championship.
“Conor McGregor is [win two belts] In 2016. That never happened,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “Since then, Amanda [Nunes]me, henry [Cejudo], [T.J.] Dillashaw tried, [Alexander] Both Volkanovski and Izzy tried it – at a time when it was unheard of, and now so many people are trying it. And I believe these people are now 170 years old. [pounds] They feel Sean Strickland can win. I’ve talked to people close to du Plessis who believe the idea he got via Sean Strickland was an afterthought.
“They seem to believe he’s so far ahead of Sean Strickland that he’s not competitive. I don’t know how he was able to watch that last game. [against Adesanya] And feel that way. ”
Strickland’s rise as champion was one of the most unexpected developments of 2023. Strickland, a former welterweight, has been a UFC fighter since 2014 and was just another face in the crowd for most of those fights. He started the year upset with back-to-back losses to Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier, the former of which was a brutal first-round knockout. However, he went 3-0 and won the gold medal, completely turning his career around. MMA Fighting’s 2023 He earned the highest honor as Fighter of the Year.
Cormier believes people are still focused on the old Strickland, rather than the version that has emerged as an unlikely title holder who outperforms Adesanya.
“The way I look at it, Kamaru Usman has refused to go 185 for years, in part because he’s friends with Izzy, even though Alex is. [Pereira] There was no talk of him becoming a champion. [Usman] I’m going to go all the way to 185,” Cormier said. “Sean Strickland is champion, Leon Edwards is talking about going to 185 soon, Kamaru Usman is talking about going to 185 soon. What is that?” If that’s the case, to be honest, I feel like they feel like they have a champion that can beat it, so I’m going to give it a shot. Why is Sean Strickland still ignored? ”
Ultimately, Strickland will be able to prove he’s more than just a one-hit wonder when he takes on Du Plessis at the first UFC pay-per-view in 2024.
Du Plessis has been unbeatable in the UFC so far, with six straight wins and five finishes, including a second-round demolition of Robert Whittaker. The South African candidate has also proven himself to be quite irritating. Du Plessis and Strickland nearly got into a fistfight at a pre-fight press conference in December, and the next day they got into an actual fight in the stands at UFC 296.
“He’s always in the middle of something,” Cormier said of Strickland.
“I really don’t know [how that crowd brawl happens]. I don’t understand why you miss him so much. There are fighters you can sit next to who you will fight in the future. Sean Strickland doesn’t seem to be that type of fighter. ”