Sean Strickland: When Is It Too Far?


I sat last night and watched a great interview. Legendary Irish journalist Vincent Hogan spoke to Joe Molloy on Off The Ball. On the show, they discussed a number of topics from throughout his amazing 30+ year career, covering every sport under the sun. Two of those topics stuck out for me, as I thought about yesterday’s MMA “man” of discussion.

The first was about former Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin. Smith, in short, is one of Ireland’s most decorated athletes. Wikipedia tells me she won three gold medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, for the 400m individual medley, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, and also won the bronze medal for the 200m butterfly event.

Those achievements, though, were tainted by allegations of PED use, with people not believing her huge rise to prominence. With no failed tests though, the editorial decision of Hogan and his publication, the Irish Independent, was to basically stick to the facts, report her achievements and move on. A decision which clearly has stuck with Hogan as not the right thing to have done at the time. He wished he could have, or would have said something different.

The other topic that caught my eye was Roy Keane. (Don’t worry, I’m getting to MMA in a minute.)

Hogan spoke about Keane, Ireland’s greatest ever athlete, in less than glowing terms. In not so many words saying he wished he never had to write about him as he felt he wasn’t an interesting character and instead was just a character playing up to the crowd. Although I heavily disagree with that sentiment, I do understand it. In sport all the time, we meet people who enthrall some but negatively defy the belief of others, whether that’s based on personality or ability.

So, that brings me to Sean Strickland.

Like Hogan with Keane, I wish I never had to write or speak a word about him. To put it mildly, he’s not a personality that is in any way intriguing or likeable, and as an athlete he’s a forgettable fighter whose skill will likely never see him win a title in the worst UFC division. He goes after unnecessary topics with his words, and in his biggest fight to date he was knocked out cold by Alex Pereira just seven fights into his career. He shouldn’t be a UFC main event mainstay. He should be an undercard fighter there to build up the next guy who might actually challenge the top players in the division. Someone who, with 600 odd fighters in the UFC, should barely see any airtime.

But like Hogan with Smith, I would regret not saying something about it.

My initial thought when sitting down to write this article was the phrase “when will it be too far?” We all know the fight game has over-the-top trash talk, and that’s fine. Sometimes it can be fun and really help to sell a fight, sometimes it misses the mark. But what about when it descends beyond that? Is there something Strickland could say that would be too much?

Looking at the online reaction to his rhetoric, you would be forgiven for thinking there is no limit. People give him the benefit of the doubt. “He’s playing a character!” “He’s doing this to get his name out there!” “He’s sticking it up to the beta male cucks!” No matter what he says, he’s all good.


He isn’t a character. He is Sean Strickland. He’s not a WWE performer doing a gimmick. He’s not an actor. He’s a middle of the road UFC fighter. He does not have to continue being such a horrible human being. He can stop. Right now.

Unless, this is just him – something his followers have argued. “He’s just saying what he’s thinking, bro. He’s just saying what we are all thinking.” Well, that’s worse. That’s just an admittance that he is a horrible person and should be called out as a horrible person.

Our responsibility as people covering the sport, or as discerning fans, is to look at the facts and make observations based on those facts. Observing Strickland calling a female content creator “a 6 without make-up” or saying “I would love nothing more than to kill someone in the cage” makes me think this person isn’t fit to participate in professional sport.

Outside of combat sports, where else would this idiocy be tolerated? The private or public workforce? Absolutely not. Any other major professional sport? No way. But that’s the crux of this. Why does the UFC tolerate him? He’s not a draw. He’s not a champion. He’s nothing special. He’s an easily replaceable fighter. Yet he says ridiculous things and he is not just tolerated, he is constantly put in main events despite many others being more worthy.

Well, we all know why. It comes from the top down. The UFC president is a man who slapped his wife on video and wasn’t sacked by his bosses. A few months after, a new boss was added and disgraced former WWE chairman Vince McMahon joined his company to UFC’s parent company Endeavor – not long after he was retired from WWE following an internal scandal where he was alleged to have paid women he had affairs with hush money.

The UFC and Endeavor doesn’t care, in fact – it’s the opposite. They fly in the face of caring about things like this as the McMahon merger shows, as the Dana White scandal shows and as Sean Strickland main events show. From the top, all the way down.

But that doesn’t mean we have to stop caring, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak about how awful Sean Strickland is. As much as I’d like to not speak about him, I will, because at the end of the day he is truly an awful, sad excuse for a man, and someone needs to say it.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook

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