Islam Makhachev’s Coach Outlines Flaw With Sean Strickland’s Performance At UFC 302: ‘Great Fighter, But…’

The UFC 302 co-main event produced the kind of Sean Strickland performance that UFC fans have become very accustomed to at this stage.

Strickland defeated Paulo Costa via a split decision at the end of five rounds following a fairly lacklustre fight.

The former middleweight champion fought out of his standard defensive shell, constantly walked down his opponent and kept his strikes simple with jabs, the occasional combination and front kicks.

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Despite Costa being unable to land anything too significant aside from some leg kicks and body punches, the rounds were still close because despite taking little damage, Strickland didn’t open up.

This was something that his corner were clearly concerned by following their defeats to Jared Cannonier and Dricus Du Plessis, where despite thinking that their fighter had done enough, they lost a decision following some very close rounds.

Mendez Says Strickland Needed To Open Up More Against Costa, Credits Coach Nicksick For Urgency 

There was no change in approach from Strickland even as Costa started to slow down which could have come back to bite him.

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His head coach, Eric Nicksick, was very clear heading into the fifth round that he needed to clearly win the final five minutes just in case the scorecards were close.

Strickland opened up more as the fight came to a close and landed some eye-catching strikes that sealed the deal for him.

During his podcast recap of the event, Islam Makhachev’s coach Javier Mendez spoke about Strickland and his defensive style.

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He pointed out how it was a great call from Nicksick to stress urgency after how close the former champion’s style can make fights look.

“Sean Strickland is a great fighter but unfortunately, for me, he pressured, he pressured, he was in control but it wasn’t until his corner gave him great advice, Eric Nicksick is a great coach, he told him ‘hey, I need you to finish strong’, this and that and he didn’t really finish strong until the very very end and actually that’s what solidified that fight for him because that’s what gave him that round. But up to that point, because you don’t know how the judges are judging these fights. It’s ridiculous the way they were judging this fight so he did it correct, he did great cornering.”    

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