UFC President Dana White has dismissed the recent incident involving middleweight contender Sean Strickland punching a fan, referring to it as a minor issue.
This incident has raised eyebrows as Strickland gears up to face Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia, on September 10. This bout marks Strickland’s first-ever title opportunity since joining the promotion in 2014, while Adesanya aims to defend his title after regaining it from Alex Pereira in April.
The altercation occurred shortly after Strickland’s arrival in Australia, where he claimed he was approached by someone he initially thought was a fan seeking a photo. To his surprise, it was an Adesanya supporter who taunted him, saying, “Adesanya will f*ck you up.” Strickland’s response was swift, landing a punch to the fan’s stomach.
In an interview with Fox Sports Australia, Strickland recounted the incident: “Boom, right in the guts. I’d only been in Australia a day and already I’d committed an assault. Doesn’t shy away from it, either. Initially, I thought the guy was coming up for a photo. Because anybody who wants a photo, man, I love the fans. But if you wanna come up to me and run your f*cking mouth, I’ll smack you like I smack anybody else. Uppercut to his stomach. Then I walked away. But if I see the guy again, man, no problems. I’ll thank him for not pressing charges.”
Given Strickland’s reputation for his intense demeanor, this incident aligns with his past actions, such as his infamous knockout of a sparring partner last year.
Meanwhile, Dana White has played down the significance of the altercation. During a press conference for Dana White’s Contender Series, the UFC president characterized the incident as less serious than portrayed. However, he acknowledged the need to prevent any such incidents from recurring and has assigned security personnel to monitor Strickland.
White commented on the situation: “Do you know where the news came from that he punched a fan? Yeah, (the news came from him). Yeah, he’s a beauty. He played it up more than whatever and was jokingly, and the fan and him are cool. Going into this, I knew. I knew what this week was going to be like. Yes, we’re prepared for it and yes, we have people around him now, so he won’t be punching people in the stomach anymore – for fun or not for fun.”
With UFC 293 approaching, all eyes will be on Sean Strickland and Israel Adesanya as they prepare to settle their differences inside the octagon.