Anthony Smith ‘Shocked’ By How Good Sean Strickland Truly Is: ‘He Only Shows a Small Part of His Game’

'Lionheart' spent some time training with the former middleweight champion in Las Vegas

Anthony Smith Trains With Sean Strickland
Courtesy of Anthony Smith on Facebook

Ahead of his return to the Octagon, light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith spent some time working with former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland.

On Saturday, May 4, ‘Lionheart’ will look to climb back into the win column after a devastating knockout loss against Khalil Rountree in his last outing. Heading to Rio for UFC 301, Smith will square off with up-and-coming prospect Vitor Petrino. 

Before heading to Brazil, Smith opted to spend a week of his fight camp in Las Vegas. While there, he worked with Strickland and was shocked to see how incredibly well-rounded ‘Tarzan’ truly is.

“That dude is good,” Smith said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He’s really good. I don’t want to pull the curtain too far back on training, but there was a part of me was shocked at how good he was because he only shows a small part of his game when he fights. He has a way more diverse technical game than what he shows. The first thing I said to him after the round was, ‘Why don’t you do this when you fight?’ It was wild. He held me down for like three straight rounds. 

Anthony Smith Calls His Time Training with Sean Strickland an ‘Educational Experience’

Anthony Smith goes into his next bout having lost three of his last four inside the Octagon, including losses to Magomed Ankalaev, Johnny Walker, and the aforementioned Khalil Rountree. Despite the skid, ‘Lionheart’ remains at No. 10 ranking in the light heavyweight division, putting him one or two big wins away from the title picture. 

He’ll look to use the experience and the knowledge gained while working with Sean Strickland to not only net his 38th career win but keep his UFC title aspirations alive.

“There were a couple of times where he pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you try it like this and this is how I do this.’ He’s really forthcoming with information and he’s a really good training partner,” Smith said. “It was a really educational experience with him. I learned a lot about his game, but I learned a lot about fighting in general. He’s willing to show you stuff and guys at the highest level aren’t always willing to do that.”

As for Sean Strickland, the ex-titleholder will look to bounce back after surrendering the middleweight crown to Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297 in January.

‘Tarzan’ returns on June 1 for a clash with division standout Paulo Costa at UFC 302, emanating from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. 

Watch the full interview with Anthony Smith below:

Published on April 26, 2024 at 11:01 am
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