Since breaking into contention at 185 pounds, Strickland has made headlines for a number of reasons, most of which has heavily lent on the negative side. Among the stories, which includes homophobic tweets, controversial takes on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and a concerning desire to kill, are tales of Strickland’s training methods.
From an altercation with Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Orlando Sanchez to a video of him knocking a sparring partner out with a head kick, there doesn’t seem to be a boring (or safe) day for Strickland’s training partners.
One man who has zero interest in throwing down with Strickland in the gym is reigning middleweight king Adesanya.
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, “The Last Stylebender” branded Strickland a “rotten apple,” and commented on some clips he’s seen of the #4-ranked contender sparring.
“Sean Strickland, he’s a bad mother*cker. Like, literally bad, (a) rotten apple,” Adesanya said. “His standup, I’ve seen him do more damage on YouTube in sparring than in his fights, put it that way. I’ve seen his sparring footage and I’d never spar with an idiot like that. I’ve hurt people in sparring before and I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t, my bad,’ and I’ll pull back… But I’ve seen what he does, and he talks sh*t… He’s got many screws loose.
“Whatever floats your boat, yes. But like, it’s funny to say coming from our sport, but I don’t like to hurt people, even though that’s our job. I like to make sure they’re able to come back the next day to do their work,” Adesanya added. “And also to give me work, because you need your teammates.”
Adesanya likened it to scenarios he’s encountered in gyms. According to the champ, some fighters arrive at facilities looking to “put some work” on certain individuals they think should be taken down a peg.
“You get some people who come into the gym with a cape behind their back like they’re about to do some sh*t,” Adesanya said. “People try and like, ‘Ah, this guy, he thinks he’s the man, let me try and put some work on him,’ then I regulate them. You take them out and put them in their place.”
While he’s made it clear that he won’t be doing toe-to-toe with Strickland in the gym, Adesanya may well have to do so in the Octagon down the line.
Should the Nigerian-New Zealander successfully defend his title for a fifth time this weekend at UFC 276, and if Strickland can stall the surge of Adesanya’s former kickboxing rival Alex Pereira on the main card, the pair will likely share the cage next.
Do you agree with Israel Adesanya’s take on Sean Strickland’s sparring approach?