Sean Strickland believes the UFC could have done more to help Stephan Bonnar prior to his untimely passing.
On December 22, former UFC standout Stephan Bonnar passed away at the age of 45, reportedly due to heart complications while at work. As the MMA community came together to pay tribute to one of the original The Ultimate Fighter contestants, Sean Strickland had a very different take. Never one to shy away from sharing a controversial opinion, Strickland criticized fans and fighters alike who paid tribute to Bonnar but presumably did nothing to help him overcome struggles with alcohol and opioids in his last years of life. That includes Strickland’s employer, the UFC.
Appearing on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Strickland added to his comments, making it clear that he is very much a company man and loves his position in life, but believes that Bonnar’s life could have been changed, potentially even saved, had the UFC been a little more willing to help the man that launched the promotion into the stratosphere almost two decades ago.
“I’m a company guy. I love the UFC and I think my commitment to the UFC is not in question, but you know. You gotta think, how much money did the UFC make off of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.”
“I’m not saying they have any obligation to give that pie to Stephan Bonnar, but… And Stephan Bonnar’s f*cking broke. He had CTE. I don’t know. I blocked the guy on Instagram. I thought he was f*cking nuts, but not saying the UFC has any obligation to help him out or any of them. When he was broke. When he was going under, all this sh*t when he was f*cking battling alcoholism. You know, whatever the f*ck he was doing, if he had a piece of that pie, even a small piece, it could have changed his f*cking life.”
Sean Strickland Respects Francis Ngannou For Gambling on Himself
No matter which side of the fence you fall on in the debate, the UFC had no obligation to help Stephan Bonnar despite years of loyal service. One fighter who does not want to find himself in a similar position down the line is former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. ‘The Predator’ recently walked away from the promotion after nearly two years of negotiations. For Ngannou, the freedom to choose for himself was greater than being the highest-paid heavyweight in UFC history.
“I guess it comes back down to Francis (Ngannou) wanting more of himself,” Strickland added. “He wants to own more of himself. I don’t know, man. I love the UFC. I’m happy. I’m doing things right. I’m making great money, but you look at guys like Stephan Bonnar who kind of paved the way, made the UFC f*cking millions and the pie definitely was not shared.
Strickland respects Ngannou’s decision to walk away from the UFC and take a chance on himself in the free-agent market, but he has no intentions of following in his footsteps. Even if that means having to call Ariel Helwani a friend.
“You know, I respect Francis for that. I’m going off what Eric (Nicksick) said and if that was legit and he was just like, ‘Hey, I want to own my brand. I want to be who I am. It’s not about the money.’ I respect that. Me personally, I’m not that f*cking way. You give me money, I’ll give you my name. I don’t give a f*ck. So I respect the fact that he stood by what he believed in and did what he wanted to do. I’m personally not that way. I’m a f*cking sellout. You give me money I’ll f*ckin’ start telling everybody I’m Ariel’s friend.