Reigning UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland and his head coach Eric Nicksick are facing a crucial decision regarding a possible matchup against rising star Khamzat Chimaev. Nicksick recently voiced his reservations about the idea of a short-notice bout against Chimaev.
Khamzat Chimaev’s victory in the co-main event against Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 has undoubtedly propelled him to the forefront of the 185-pound division. UFC CEO Dana White’s consistent emphasis on the winner earning the next title shot only solidifies Chimaev’s contender status.
Despite Sean Strickland’s dominant decision win over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in September, he was presented with a last-minute opportunity to face Chimaev with less than a month’s notice. This unexpected turn of events came about due to Paulo Costa’s bout against Chimaev being canceled due to surgery complications.
In a recent interview with ESPN MMA, Eric Nicksick provided insight into the UFC’s proposal for Strickland to defend his title on short notice.
Nicksick explained, “From my understanding, they just threw it out there to see if he’d be available, and then when Sean had asked me, to be honest, I was the one that kind of said no. I was like, bro, I can’t be there. I mean, we can go out there, but it just didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever to take a short-notice fight against a killer.”
He continued, “Sean Strickland can fight anybody on any day’s notice we know that he’s done it before in the past but why is it our responsibility to go put our title on the line on short notice when we already did them the solid by fighting Izzy on five and a half weeks notice.”
“He did have an infection in his foot and everything else so, just didn’t sound right. It just felt like a trap you know it felt like a big trap so I told him, I said no.”
Even Sean Strickland shares the skepticism that a short-notice decision victory over Kamaru Usman qualifies Khamzat Chimaev for a middleweight title shot.
In a recent segment of Extra Rounds on UFC Fight Pass, Strickland expressed his reservations.
He said: “The only thing I like about Chimaev is that he sells fights. For some fu*king reason, people like him or don’t like him… but he fu*king hasn’t earned it, doesn’t fu*king deserve it, but here we are. Give it to him. He sells a lot of fights. I’ll go fu*king fight the man for five rounds. But no, he has not earned it. He doesn’t fu*king deserve it. Getting a decision with a welterweight off a couch is not fu*king earning it.”