The warmth between Sean Strickland and Dricus du Plessis has change into up plenty of notches since their UFC 297 most fundamental-tournament bout used to be announced, nonetheless in accordance to the middleweight champion’s head coach, all of the drama also can fair possess helped Strickland level up.
Strickland and du Plessis fight for the UFC’s 185-pound title in Toronto on Jan. 20 at UFC 297, the promotion’s first pay-per-watch tournament of 2024. The duo possess had a disagreement that some imagine possess crossed the dual carriageway, which additionally led to a fight in the crowd between Strickland and du Plessis at UFC 296.
Eric Nicksick, Strickland’s head coach, recounted how Strickland used to be very emotional following UFC 296 fight week, and the conversation Nicksick had with the UFC champ that appears to be like to possess fully changed Strickland’s mindset.
“So there used to be two days,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “It used to be the Saturday when that total minute brawl thing extra or much less occurred [at UFC 296], I didn’t witness him on Sunday, and then Monday’s observe [Strickland was emotional].
“I stated to him, ‘Stare, I desire you to like a number of things — that you assure for a demographic, that you assure for these that I in level of reality possess truly on no myth been communicating with in my life except you won this title. The quantity of these that attain out to me that attain from the the same upbringing, the the same challenges as you doubtlessly can possess had, whether you admire it or not, you’re an inspiration to them, you’re a role mannequin to them in plenty of ideas.’
“I stated, ‘I’m relaxed with you and I am hoping that you would possibly ticket that you will be in a location to make a distinction with your platform and talking on plenty of these things, and the capability you raise your self now. Whether you design end to offer so or not, that’s fully as much as you. But staunch by your location that you’re in now, you’ve made a distinction, and folks possess reached out to me and I stated that I’m relaxed with you, I’ll plug away it at that.’
“From a coach’s facet, I told him, ‘I don’t desire you to fight this fight emotionally because I mediate that favors Dricus and takes us out of our game intention.’ He stated, ‘No, you’re staunch,’ and that used to be truly it, that used to be the end of the conversation. And since then, he’s staunch been targeted. He’s staunch been truly dialed in. Every observe has been living on, every part that he’s been doing has been living on, and if that’s motivation [because of] what occurred [at UFC 296], I don’t know, nonetheless from camp to camp, I truly feel admire this one in insist has a completely different which suggests for him.”
Essentially based on Nicksick, even Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen, who used to be brought in to encourage prepare Strickland for du Plessis, agrees that Strickland has taken things up a number of notches sooner than his first title protection.
Strickland captured the belt with a dominant decision safe over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 this previous September. Adesanya used to be in a heated feud with du Plessis, nonetheless that bitterness has shifted over to this original matchup with Strickland.
All the very most realistic contrivance by contrivance of the tournament’s first press conference, du Plessis took a shot at Strickland’s childhood that bought the champion extraordinarily fired up.
“You watched your dad beat the sout of you? Your dad doesn’t possess son me … every childhood memory you doubtlessly can possess is going to attain encourage when I’m in there with you,” du Plessis stated in December.
That 2d used to be the gasoline that space the fire for Strickland and du Plessis’ brawl in the T-Mobile crowd — an incident that Nicksick understands, nonetheless is additionally not his cup of tea.
“I accumulate it, these guys are making an strive to sell the fight,” Nicksick explained. “Sean will dawdle, and order all these things, and then it’s going to attain encourage to you. Guys are going dawdle and order sencourage to you, so it’s staunch allotment of it. It’s what it’s.
“It’s not for me, that’s for particular. It’s not my job. My pay would not exchange if these guys talk s, or demonstrate up and shake fingers. I don’t care one bit. Dricus is the rightful inheritor to that No. 1 contender living. He’s earned it. He’s gargantuan, I mediate he’s unbelievable, what he does, and I mediate he’s fully gotten greater. So all appreciate to his camp, that’s the capability I witness at the distress.
“If these guys are making an strive to chat about their previous, and their sexuality, their dads, and all this completely different crap, plug away it to them. I don’t are making an strive to be interested by any of that stuff. I are making an strive to exit and compete against the most efficient, and I mediate Dricus is the most efficient staunch now.”
Nicksick has always felt Strickland in all equity misunderstood, especially when talking about the extra or much less teammate he has been. Since changing into world champion, Nicksick says Strickland hasn’t rested on his laurels in any capability. Surely, it’s fully made Strickland are making an strive to space a greater instance as a fighter and a teammate.
“I mediate he displays his level of care even extra as a contrivance to the personnel,” Nicksick stated. “I mediate that he’s in level of reality admire reverted encourage to extra cleansing the mats and making particular the gymnasium is trim and doing all these things. Furthermore, I mediate he needs to withhold that laborious work mentality, admire this belt will not be going exchange him and exchange who he’s, and he’s not going to neglect what bought him right here and that’s his laborious work.
“But even Chris Curtis used to be announcing [recently], ‘Sean’s capability to the game, I mediate is a minute bit extra heady.’ We talk a minute bit extra about being extra calculated as time has gone on, nonetheless as far as staunch his workload and his work ethic, he used to be out for one week after he won the title and used to be encourage in the gymnasium to encourage the reduction of his teammates accumulate willing. It’s seemingly you’ll’t quiz for something greater out of a teammate in the room, because now as a champion, that’s going to trickle down extra and extra guys are going to witness, ‘OK, this is how Sean does it, this is how Sean works, this is how Sean takes care of his teammates,’ and now the subsequent guy in line is going to with out a doubt feel that identical capability, will produce the the same thing, and it’s fully going to encourage us out.”