Chael Sonnen Believes Sean Strickland’s ‘A**-Kicking’ at the Hands of Alex Pereira Helped Him Defeat Israel Adesanya

Sonnen shared his thoughts on Strickland's shocking win over 'The Last Stylebender' at UFC 293

Chael Sonnen
Courtesy of @UFCNews on Twitter

Chael Sonnen believes Sean Strickland benefited from his first-round knockout loss against former middleweight champion Alex Pereira.

On Saturday night, Strickland stunned the world after securing a lopsided unanimous decision victory over Israel Adesanya to capture the 185-pound crown at UFC 293. Speaking about the shocking turn of events over the week, three-time title challenger Chael Sonnen suggested that Strickland’s first-round shellacking at the heavy hands of Alex Pereira last year played a big role in his ability to come back and strike gold in The Land Down Under.

“Sean would have not had this experience, he would not have had this approach, he would not have had this confidence had he not taken that a**-kicking from Alex Pereira,” Sonnen said on The MMA Hour. “As tough as that was in that moment for him to swallow with the number one contendership lost, the things he learned that I need to respect against a superior striker. That match is what led him to be able to do that to Adesanya on Saturday night.”

Sonnen suggested that Strickland essentially abandoned his game plan after dropping the former champ in round one, a move he was initially critical of.

“Sean makes these little tiny mistakes because he likes it,” Sonnen said. “He likes to dare the opponent all the time. ‘I dare you to hit me. I dare you to take me down.’ I really learned and fought a lot smarter fight. He gained confidence as that Izzy fight went on. He gained strategy that his coach had laid out for him. Eric Nicksick even made this public, but it was to make it dirty. Get your hands on the guy. Old school Randy Couture. Dirty boxing. Have your hands on him nonstop. Pushing him. Chasing him down.

“Sean let all of that go. And even watching it, I knew that Sean was getting away from the game plan. I knew somewhere in there that when he put him down, he liked that feeling so he wanted to put him down one more time and I thought that he was getting careless. Now it turns out that I had all of that wrong. There’s a reason you need to watch the fight and pay really close attention if you want to give it an analysis.”

Chael Sonnen Looks Back at Sean Strickland’s Not-So-Spectacular Performance at Submission Underground Event

During his conversation with Ariel Helwani, ‘The American Gangster’ also shared a story about Sean Strickland’s first and only appearance on Sonnen’s Submission Underground

“[Sean Strickland] is doing a Submission Underground with Andy Varela and Sean was talking to Varela, and don’t forget that this is during the COVID times. There is nobody in the building or on the floor. The cameras themselves were ran on remote control. So you’ve just got the referee, there is a doctor, and then just the two athletes. 

“So Sean’s pushing and pulling, doing whatever he does. He came out to do this whole thing because he thought he was going to fight Jack Hermansson and he wanted to work on his grappling. At some point, in daring Andy Varela who’s as good as they come. Like, Varela is a threat for an Abu Dhabi medal. Sean turns his back to him. Turns his back and yells something to him. ‘Will you just attack me?!’ He heckles him.

“Andy Varela jumped through the air like a spider, locked on a body triangle and a choke, all in one motion and all you see is Sean Strickland fall over with Sean tapping. He looked like such a doofus. He had never done grappling before like this. He must not have known who Andy Varela was.”

Published on September 11, 2023 at 9:11 pm
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