Sean Strickland’s unexpected admission that he punched a fan who insulted him nearly cost the American a title fight with Israel Adesanya, from whom he took the UFC middleweight championship belt in dominant fashion.
“I thought we were going to get taken out of the fight,” the American said on another edition of The MMA Hour program. “Shawn actually exposed himself during fight week when talking to the media. He said, ‘Yeah, this guy came at me with insults and I punched him in the stomach with my fist.’ Apparently his words reached the Australian authorities and things took a nasty turn”
“It got to the point where they called in coach Sean Crouch from the MMA Lab club and he flew out to Australia to second Jared Cannonier. When I heard about it, I said, ‘Bro, we’re out, they’re taking us out of the fight.’ Then there was an open training session and the situation was scuttled, but we were on thin ice and were very close to losing the fight”
The middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland, headlined by UFC 293 in Sydney on Sept. 9, went the full distance and ended in a 49-46 three-round unanimous decision victory for the American, with the Nigerian already knocked down in the first round and on the verge of an early loss.