Strickland defeated Israel Adesanya this previous Saturday at UFC 293 to say the middleweight title, defying lengthy odds within the course of and profitable in a method that few thought doable. Not solely did Strickland stand and strike with “The Final Stylebender,” he soundly beat Adesanya at his personal recreation en path to a transparent choice victory.
Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman advised that his fighter had an “off night” whereas nonetheless giving Strickland credit score for his efficiency, however Curtis defined on The MMA Hour that everybody is thrown off the primary time they go toe-to-toe with Strickland.
“Should you watch Sean spar anyone, it goes similar to that,” Curtis stated. “I’ve seen him spar a bunch of individuals. You may get higher combating in opposition to Sean, however each time somebody has their first rounds with Sean, it goes precisely this fashion. The place persons are like, ‘What the hell is occurring?’ So everyone’s like, ‘Izzy regarded off.’ I’ve seen this a thousand instances. You may get higher at combating him, however if you initially run into him you’re simply confused.
“Every thing he does is, on paper, flawed. It’s not the way in which you’re supposed to maneuver. He strikes bizarre, he throws bizarre, he kung fu blocks, he’s actually good at shutting down the belongings you’re speculated to be good at. You hear at one level Izzy say, ‘I can’t discover my jab.’ It’s onerous to seek out your jab in opposition to Sean as a result of he creates a lot random site visitors along with his jab or if you begin jabbing he’s parrying bizarre, he’s kung fu blocking.
“In most fight sports activities, particularly kickboxing and boxing, every little thing is based off of your jab. Every thing units up together with your jab, so when he simply takes that away from you, no, it’s not there, you may’t out-jab Sean. He’s going to win that battle. He’s both going to counter you or simply make your jab pointless. Take a look at Izzy, he’s throwing jabs, he’s getting his arm blocked up excessive, a couple of instances he’d throw and Sean simply bats his arm up and away. … So all that bulls*** about Izzy regarded completely different, no, you look confused like I regarded confused and everybody else seems confused after they spar Sean as a result of it’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ No, that’s bulls***, I’ve seen this occur for seven years and that is what he does.”
Although Strickland was not the primary possibility for the UFC 293 title battle—No. 1 contender Dricus Du Plessis and Adesanya have been trending in the direction of a conflict for months, however accidents prevented Du Plessis from taking the reserving—his work at 185 kilos put him on the quick listing and when the matchmakers got here calling, he pounced on the chance. Strickland is 8-2 since returning to the division in 2020.
Curtis, a coaching associate at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, has been with Strickland for a lot of his journey, however even he was stunned that Strickland pulled it off within the method that he did.
“Sean might be the hardest human being that I’ve met with regards to combating,” Curtis stated. “I really like combating, he’s in all probability the one particular person I genuinely know who enjoys combating greater than I do. I knew he may win this battle, I didn’t assume he would make it look that simple. I don’t assume he thought that he would make it look that simple.
“All of us knew he may win, we had been like, ‘Sean’s robust as nails, he’s affected person, he’s aggressive, he can do that. He’s acquired to make it an unsightly battle and get Izzy to battle a dumb battle.’ Nobody ever thought that he would out-kickbox Izzy. I’m watching and I’m like, ‘This isn’t what you skilled, oh my God.’”
Curtis credit coach Danny Davis Jr. with having Strickland emphasize checking Adesanya’s low kicks and hand combating, two points of the battle that allowed Strickland to dominate the motion. Adesanya struggled with establishing any form of offense or establishing vary, whereas Strickland hardly ever appeared to have any problem organising his assaults.
In response to Strickland, wrestling was additionally an essential a part of the sport plan, not that one may inform from how the battle performed out.
“Actually, the strain, yeah, however we actually hoped he would wrestle,” Curtis stated. “Watching Sean spar, he would shoot, however he was nonetheless simply kickboxing individuals, combating like Sean, so that you knew that was going to be part of it however you’re hoping that he’d combine in wrestling. Make it onerous, drag him down, put on him out.
“All people’s like, ‘Is he going to wrestle?’ I used to be like, ‘He’s skilled to wrestle, however it’s Sean, so he’s going to get in there and…’ I stated he’s in all probability going to in there and have a kickboxing match. Lo and behold, he went in there and he freaking received a kickboxing match in opposition to Izzy. I don’t assume anybody noticed that coming.”
Strickland didn’t simply beat Adesanya, he virtually completed him within the first spherical. After strolling Adesanya down for a lot of the body, Strickland landed a crisp 1-2 mixture that dropped Adesanya and adopted with a flurry that the now-former champion managed to outlive.
Curtis was a part of a UFC watch celebration throughout the principle occasion and his surprised response was streamed stay to the world. Like, everybody else, he’s unsure what he would have executed had Strickland truly ended the competition so rapidly.
“Folks don’t understand, Sean truly hits onerous,” Curtis stated. “It’s not like “he’s going to knock you out in a single punch” onerous, however it’s sufficient thudding to the place it stuns you. So when Izzy went down I went, ‘OK, he’s down, he’s touchdown pictures’ and a part of me was like ‘Oh my God if he finishes Izzy in a single spherical, the world’s going to implode.’
“You’re excited and it’s loopy however then you definitely’ve acquired to recollect the Pereira battle and I’m like, ‘Bro, don’t take a foul threat right here.’ You’re sort of like, ‘Win the battle, win the battle, however please don’t screw up right here.’ And it’s loopy as a result of I’ve by no means seen somebody bat a thousand like that, he simply did every little thing proper. I don’t assume he made a mistake that battle.”