Strickland, one of the most outspoken, unique, and controversial personalities in MMA, has never shied away from detailing his interactions in the gym, which includes a near-bust-up with BJJ champion Orlando Sanchez.
As he gears up for his second consecutive UFC main event, a clash of 185-pound contenders against Jack Hermansson on February 5, “Tarzan” has been preparing at the renowned Xtreme Couture gym under the tutelage of Eric Nicksick. Among his training partners is a certain “Predator.”
While some would shy away from sparring with a man who has bombs as fists and boasts the hardest recorded punch in history, Strickland is not “some,” as Nicksick recently revealed to MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin.
“That dude will literally spar anybody in our gym,” Nicksick said. “He calls Francis out every sparring session. He loves to spar Francis because he goes ‘I want to feel as close to death as possible and I want to have that fear of God in my heart every time I spar a guy like Francis Ngannou.’ So sure, we throw him in there and let him get some rounds with Francis.”
Strickland discussed his experience sparring the Cameroonian behemoth while speaking to combat sports journalist Helen Yee. The #7-ranked middleweight contender suggested Ngannou cannot relate to the level of fear he feels while standing opposite the heavyweight titleholder in the gym.
“You know, I would like to think that I fucked Francis up, but I really think that he’s very nice… He’s a good dude, man. I was actually sparring him the other day and I told Francis, ‘You’ve never experienced this in your life, but when I spar you and you’re throwing punches at me, like, I genuinely have fear. You’ve probably never felt that in your life.’ But Francis is a great guy. He throws hard, I trust him not to hurt me. Anytime he fucking wants to bang, dude, I welcome it.”
Not much can prepare a fighter for an opponent’s power better than training with the biggest power-puncher in the world. And from trading blows with “The Predator” donning the 16oz gloves, Strickland certainly has respect for the power Ngannou possesses.
In a tweet on Wednesday, “Tarzan” admitted a shot from the heavyweight behemoth with 4oz gloves would send him to sleep.
“Everyone ask me how do I do with francious lol!! I will tell you that I do really well with him with 16 Gloves in the GYM lol!!! bottom line is you put 4 ounce gloves on him in a FIGHT and he touches me once and I will go to dreamland!!!! LOL.”
Ngannou Is Gearing Up For A Crucial Unification Showdown At UFC 270
While Strickland is preparing for a main event contest with Hermansson, Ngannou’s work in the gym is going towards his upcoming unification showdown with interim champ Ciryl Gane.
Since ascending the heavyweight mountain last March with a knockout victory over Stipe Miocic, Ngannou has been on the sidelines, watching on as his former teammate emerged triumphant in two main events and had interim gold wrapped around his waist.
At UFC 270 on January 22, the pair will collide to determine who will lead the division as its undisputed king. With the title and potentially Ngannou’s future at stake, the year’s opening pay-per-view headliner is certainly not one to miss.
Who do you think will leave UFC 270 as the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion, Francis Ngannou or Ciryl Gane?