How fast will Strickland (24-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) get his shot, though? He said it depends on how some key divisional matchups play out, including his UFC Fight Night headliner with Jack Hermansson on Feb. 5. Conveniently, that’s one week prior to UFC 271 on Feb. 12, where Adesanya (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) was recently announced to be putting his 185-pound title on the line in a rematch with Robert Whittaker.
The upcoming pairing between Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson also fits in the fold, Strickland said, but as long as he wins his fight, he thinks he’s in a strong position.
“If Brunson wins I think I should get the title shot if I beat Jack – if Cannonier wins he deserves it,” Strickland told MMA Junkie on Tuesday. “If Brunson wins, we’ve already seen that (against Adesanya and Whittaker). I think I should get it. … Whittaker ain’t gonna beat Izzy. No offense, Whittaker, you’re a f*cking savage. I’m a fan, dude. But he ain’t gonna beat him.”
Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland headlines UFC’s Feb. 5 event
Why Sean Strickland isn’t surprised Luke Rockhold withdrew from UFC 268
If Strickland, No. 10 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie middleweight rankings, manages to get past No. 8-ranked Hermansson (22-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) and the other results go against the grain for him, he still sees himself in a good spot. He’s more than willing to take another fight while the title picture plays out and enhance his worth even further, then he could see a title showdown with Adesanya unfolding in the back half of 2022.
“At least a title shot (by the end of the year),” Strickland said. “I’m one of the hardest training fighters in the UFC and I’ll do everything I can to get to a title shot, and if it happens, let’s f*cking go, Izzy. I’m f*cking ready. Make sure to cycle off, though. I don’t want to f*cking bring you a bra if you don’t hit the right cycle.”
When Strickland tells Adesanya to “cycle off,” he is making an allegation of performance-enhancing drug use that stems from the champion’s title defense over Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September 2020. Adesanya was under the microscope surrounding that fight when he had swelling on his right pectoral muscle that some claimed to be Gynecomastia.
Adesanya, who has been tested 46 times under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) since joining the UFC roster in 2018 without so much as a hiccup, adamantly refuted any notion he’s used banned substances, and his head coach Eugene Bareman said “it’s outrageous” such speculation exists.
To anyone still thinking he was using PEDs because of his pec, @Stylebender has a message:
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) October 9, 2020
Strickland isn’t convinced, though. He is of the belief Adesanya is not playing the game fairly, but said he’s unbothered by it regardless. He jokes the champion can teach him the ways ahead of a potential clash.
“Izzy’s a great fighter – he comes from kickboxing – have you ever seen a fighter with gyno for any other reason than that?” Strickland said. “Besides him, have you ever seen a fighter in the UFC that smokes weed that gets gyno? Ever? You can’t, because it doesn’t f*cking happen unless you cycle wrong. That’s a fact. We all know it. But regardless of the fact, Izzy’s a f*cking great fighter. We know that. That’s the fight I want.
“Izzy, I’ll come over dude. We can f*cking watch anime and you can put some f*cking testosterone in my ass. I’ll do it with you. Let’s f*cking go. With a needle I think you guys do the stomach, right? Is that where you guys do, the stomach? You’re the expert on f*cking steroids. How’s it done?”
Sean Strickland def. Nordine Taleb at UFC Fight Night 138: Best photos
view 9 images
Photos: Israel Adesanya through the years
view 58 images