Erik Nicksick Reflects on the Time He Realized That Sean Strickland is A Superstar

Erik Nicksick (Via UFC)

Sean Strickland’s head coach, Eric Nicksick, has been through thick and thin with him for a long time. For Nicksick, watching a valued student like the former UFC middleweight champion reach superstar status has been a surreal experience.

Strickland is gearing up to face Paulo Costa in a five-round co-main event at UFC 302, set for June 1 at the Prudential Center in Newark.

This will be Strickland’s first fight since losing the UFC middleweight title to Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297 in January. Following his title victory over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 last September, Strickland’s popularity has surged dramatically.

Nicksick was aware of this growing fandom, but it wasn’t until early 2024 that he fully grasped how massive Strickland’s following had become.

“When we were in Toronto at the [UFC 297] presser, Chris [Curtis] and I were walking and some guy yells, ‘Sean Strickland, tell me what to think!’” Nicksick told MMA Fighting, laughing.

“I remember Chris Curtis looks right at me and goes, ‘Oh, God, no. Tell me I didn’t just hear that.’ He’s just got this following now, where this guy goes, ‘Sean, tell me what to think!’

Sean Strickland (Via UFC)

And I just remember seeing Chris Curtis’ face, and Chris is just like, ‘What’s going on? We can’t have this. We cannot have this. Please.’

“I just think that fans just love his realness, man. His fights are exciting, and I think it was the [Adesanya] fight, he won a lot of fans over. But his style is very different than a lot of people.

He’s not going to be going in there and knocking dudes’ heads off. He’s more of a Diaz style. He’ll pepper you up and look for the kill shots later on down the line. He’s a volume striker.”

Nicksick recently spoke on The MMA Hour about adjustments he would like to see Strickland make moving forward in his fights, including using his underrated grappling ability.

Sean Strickland (Via UFC)

Strickland has made his mark with an outstanding, in-your-face, pace-heavy style, which features tremendous defense and an extremely effective jab.

Since those comments, Nicksick had a one-time UFC title challenger stop into the Xtreme Couture gym, and after working with Strickland, they completely agreed with Nicksick’s assessment that if Strickland grappled more in fights, it could lead to huge success.

“Anthony Smith came in and trained with us for like a week, and Anthony was like, ‘Bro, this guy is unreal on the ground. He’s unreal. He was showing me this little thing, and this trick, and I never thought of it this way,” Nicksick explained.

“And Anthony left going like, ‘Why doesn’t this guy use this as much?’ And I just looked and turned my head to the wall and just started [banging my head] on the wall. Like, ‘Dude, this is what I deal with.’”

Harshad Patel

Written by Harshad Patel

Harshad Patel, a passionate and zealous blogger, writes about WWE with an unmatched fervor. With a writing style that is as dynamic as the wrestling matches he covers, Harshad captures the essence of WWE through his insightful analysis.

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