Sean Strickland’s Coach On How He Can Win More Rounds In Judges’ Eyes & Not Lose Close Decisions: ‘You Almost Kinda Get Lulled To Sleep…’

Sean Strickland and Paulo Costa will face each other at UFC 302 and the highly anticipated five-round middleweight fight will serve as the co-main event. Because the stakes are high, Strickland’s coach Erick Nicksick wants to make his fighter’s style more impressive for the judges. 

Strickland is coming off a bitter title loss to Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297 as the fight was razor close and the challenger bagged a split decision win. Costa, on the other hand, went to war with Robert Whittaker at UFC 298 but lost unanimously on the judges’ scorecards.

Despite losses, both Strickland and Costa haven’t lost credibility as top middleweight contenders, and winning at UFC 302 can put either on the path to the title again. 

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Nicksick expanded on some things in Strickland’s fighting style that he believes can bore the judges, and he hopes not to repeat the same mistakes this time. 

Sean Strickland’s Coach Shares Lessons From the Du Plessis Fight  

In an interview with CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri, Nicksick was asked whether Strickland’s style needs to change so his fights don’t end up becoming close decisions.

“I think you just have to give more scoring elements, more things for the judges to be able to see, you know. Sean is so predicated off his lead side and his lead hand,” Nicksick said. “You get a death by a thousand paper cuts. You almost kinda get lulled to sleep by the same offensive action over and over and over. So, you know, in the Dricus fight, I think there was a lot of things we could have done better. 

“I think we could have implemented some more kicks, some more teeps. The one thing that really stood out to me was you know when we hit the switches on the ground. Instead of getting up and popping right back up, there was an opportunity for us to lay some ground and pound on him.”

Nicksick went on to acknowledge that a more aggressive or diverse approach would help Strickland in not having frequent split-decision fights. Since joining the UFC, he’s been in five split decisions where he clinched victory against three opponents but lost to Jared Cannonier and Du Plessis. 

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Former featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski raised similar concerns about Strickland’s fighting style being too defensive and how it affects scoring even though he doesn’t take a lot of damage. 

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