Tale of the Tape
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada
MMA record: 24-3
Betting odds: -205
While he may becoming best known for his vocal opinions outside the cage, Strickland is a rising middleweight contender with a fairly well-rounded game. He is not particularly potent in any one area but he does just enough of everything well enough to be neutralize most opposition. The Vegas resident has morphed into a solid anti-wrestler who punishes grapplers with a persistent striking attack, but has lost to the best opposition he’s faced. While he’s looked great dominating lesser opposition and is listed as a solid 2-1 favorite, he faces a step up this week in Jack Hermansson.
Strickland’s best work is done through a combination of his stifling jab and high volume boxing attack. He’s not the most technical, but his athleticism, speed and durability get him by. His jab launches fast and lands hard — it is not merely a range finder, it is a weapon. A variety of hooks and the occasional kick or knee follows it, thrown at a consistent pace whether it’s round one or five. The volume from Sean remains strong throughout bouts, eventually wearing down and overwhelming foes.
Defense, on the other hand, is an issue. Strickland’s general striking posture and form are downright awful, with his head completely straight up and his chin fully exposed. Worse, his shoulders are not raised and his hands are low at almost all times. He’s shown to be very durable so far, but he has been dropped and even finished with strikes. It probably won’t haunt him this week, but the elite strikers of the division will badly exploit these tendencies.
Despite being a solid wrestler, Strickland uses it more as a defensive measure. He’s generally good at keeping fights upright, with only Kamaru Usman definitively besting him in the wrestling department. On the mat, he shows generally good awareness but, just like on the feet, he tends to get lazy on the defensive end. One thing that particularly bothers me is he has a lanky frame that is susceptible to arm and leg locks yet he often leaves them in vulnerable positions on the mat. Strickland is skilled in the scramble and difficult to hold down should he find himself in a bad position, but I would much prefer he avoided putting himself at risk to begin with.
Strickland is a skilled fighter but one who gets by more on his intangibles than pure skillset. His durability, cardio, pace and athleticism give him an edge over most fighters. The problem is those only get a fighter so far and eventually high level opposition will exploit this lack of technique. A striker like Israel Adesanya will pick him apart standing while we saw what a wrestler like Usman did to him despite Sean’s sized advantage. However, fighters with his combination of intangibles are usually great at beating up on middling contenders as we’ve seen him do in spades. He’s looked great doing so, and that may continue this week, but against the division’s elite I expect him to struggle.
Look for part two, featuring my breakdown of Jack Hermansson on Friday. Followed by my analysis of the matchup and my official prediction on Saturday.