Sean Strickland’s Toughest Battles: A Dive into His Defeats

March 4, 2024
From: Spartacus
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In Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), every fighter’s journey is punctuated by both victories and defeats. Sean Strickland, known for his formidable presence in the middleweight division, has carved a path marked by thrilling victories and educational losses. This article aims to delve into the latter, exploring the crucial defeats that have shaped Strickland’s career.

By examining who has bested him inside the octagon, we gain insights not just into Strickland’s fighting style and evolution but also into the nature of competition at the highest level of MMA. Each loss in a fighter’s record tells a story of tactical battles, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of improvement. Join us as we uncover the key opponents who have overcome Sean Strickland, adding essential chapters to his compelling MMA narrative.

Who is Sean Strickland? 

Sean Strickland’s journey into the world of MMA is a tale of passion, determination, and resilience. Born on February 27, 1991, in New Bern, North Carolina, Strickland grew up developing a deep interest in martial arts. His foray into the world of fighting began at a young age, sparked by a desire to channel his energy and focus into a disciplined sport.

Strickland’s background in MMA is rooted in his early years when he started training in various disciplines. His dedication and natural aptitude for the sport soon became evident. He quickly made a name for himself in the local fighting circuits, showcasing his skills and fierce competitive spirit. These early experiences laid the groundwork for what would become a successful professional career.

Transitioning into professional MMA, Strickland made his debut in 2008, marking the beginning of an impressive ascent in the fighting world. His early career was marked by a series of victories, demonstrating not only his technical skills but also his mental toughness and strategic acumen. These wins were a testament to his rigorous training, dedication, and the unwavering support of his team.

Strickland’s style in the ring is characterized by a blend of striking and grappling, a result of his diverse training background. He is known for his aggressive approach, precision striking, and ability to adapt his strategy mid-fight. This versatility has been a key factor in his success, allowing him to face a variety of opponents with different fighting styles.

Sean Strickland is known for his orthodox stance and defensive striking, has had an impactful career with several notable achievements. Strickland boasts a significant strike defense rate of 65.4%, the highest among active middleweight fighters in the UFC. He is also known for his use of the Philly Shell guard, a defensive technique that involves positioning the lead hand on the lower torso and the back hand closer to the side of the face.

In terms of his fighting style, Strickland often employs his boxing skills, applying pressure by walking forwards and forcing opponents into boxing range. He frequently uses jabs followed by a right cross. Although he primarily uses his wrestling defensively, Strickland can also take a dominant top position for ground and pound attacks.

Strickland’s personal life has been marked by challenges, including the loss of his father to cancer in 2017. He has spoken openly about the physical and psychological abuse he suffered from his father, which has influenced his life and career.

Throughout his career, Strickland has faced ups and downs, including notable losses that have tested his resolve. However, each setback has been a learning experience, fueling his determination to improve and come back stronger. His journey is a reflection of the ethos of MMA: a relentless pursuit of excellence, resilience in the face of adversity, and the spirit of a true fighter.

As Strickland continues to compete at the highest levels of MMA, his story remains an inspiration to aspiring fighters and fans alike. A number of his fans have shown their respect by contributing articles, creating custom belts, custom challenge coins, and MMA accessories for him. It is a reminder that success in the ring is not just about physical prowess, but also about the heart, discipline, and the courage to pursue one’s dreams 

All The Fights That Challenged Sean Strickland 

#1 Sean Strickland vs Santiago Ponzinibbio

Sean Strickland’s fight against Santiago Ponzinibbio on February 22, 2015, at UFC Fight Night: Bigfoot vs. Mir, was a significant milestone in his MMA career. Taking place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, this bout was not just another fight on the card, but a clash between two stand-up warriors, each with a well-deserved reputation for engaging and spirited fights.

The opening round set the tone for this evenly matched fight, with both fighters testing each other’s defenses and looking for openings. Strickland, known for his technical striking and agility, attempted to establish his rhythm early on, but Ponzinibbio’s resilience and striking power presented a formidable challenge. Ponzinibbio, recognized for his powerful and precise strikes, demonstrated his skill in the stand-up game, making it a tough contest for Strickland.

As the fight progressed into the second round, Ponzinibbio began to assert his dominance in the striking department. He found his range and rhythm, landing significant blows that started to sway the momentum of the fight in his favor. His lunging right hand, in particular, became a key weapon, catching Strickland several times and demonstrating Ponzinibbio’s ability to capitalize on even the smallest of openings.

In the final round, despite Strickland increasing his output and showing his resilience, Ponzinibbio continued his onslaught. He maintained control of the octagon, dictating the pace of the fight. Strickland, though persistent, absorbed heavy punishment, which impacted the judges’ scorecards.

The fight concluded with a unanimous decision, all judges scoring it 30-27 in favor of Santiago Ponzinibbio. This victory marked a significant achievement for Ponzinibbio, demonstrating his striking ability and tactical acumen in the octagon. For Strickland, despite the loss, the fight showcased his fighting spirit and his capability to stand toe-to-toe with some of the best strikers in the division.

#2 Sean Strickland vs Kamaru Usman 



In the UFC 210 welterweight bout between Sean Strickland and Kamaru Usman, both fighters showcased their distinct fighting styles in a competitive match. Usman, known for his formidable wrestling and striking, took a commanding approach right from the start, effectively utilizing his grappling skills.

The first round set the tone, with Usman demonstrating his strength by executing body punches and a combination of strikes. He tried to take Strickland down, maintaining pressure and controlling the pace. Though Strickland resisted the takedown, he was pressed against the cage, where Usman delivered knees and kept the pressure high.

In the second round, Usman’s dominance continued. He successfully dropped Strickland with a powerful strike combination, followed by a series of ground strikes. Usman’s grappling was a major factor; his ability to switch positions and maintain control while delivering strikes was evident throughout this round.

The final round began with an attempt from Strickland to turn the tide, but Usman quickly regained control, utilizing body jabs and low kicks. He continued his offensive with a mix of strikes, maintaining his aggressive style. Strickland tried to counter but struggled against Usman’s comprehensive control.

Usman’s victory was a clear result of his strategic dominance in both striking and grappling. His ability to blend these aspects seamlessly showcased his skill and tactical intelligence. The unanimous decision in favor of Usman underscored his effective performance and marked an important victory in his career. This bout highlighted Usman’s rising trajectory in the welterweight division and showcased his potential as a top contender in the UFC.

#3 Sean Strickland vs Alex Pereira



Sean Strickland’s bout against Alex Pereira took place at UFC 276 on July 2, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada. This middleweight fight was highly anticipated due to the unique styles and strengths of both fighters. Strickland, known for his striking accuracy and impressive fight IQ, was on a winning streak and climbing the ranks rapidly. Pereira, on the other hand, had garnered attention for his exceptional striking power, particularly his knockout ability, which he had demonstrated in previous fights.

The lead-up to the fight was marked by expectations of a striking clinic, as both fighters were renowned for their stand-up game. Strickland’s strategy usually revolved around using his boxing skills and reach to control the fight, while Pereira, a former Glory Kickboxing Champion, was expected to leverage his lethal striking power and kickboxing expertise.

From the opening bell, the fight lived up to its billing, with both fighters engaging in a tactical striking battle. Pereira showcased his powerful kicks and punches, while Strickland tried to counter with his precision striking. One of the notable moments came when Pereira landed a significant strike that seemed to shift the momentum in his favor.

As the fight progressed, both fighters had their moments, but it was Pereira who began to assert dominance with his striking. In a pivotal moment, Pereira connected with a perfectly timed left hook that caught Strickland off guard. This strike demonstrated Pereira’s knockout power and precision, as Strickland, known for his durability, was unable to withstand the impact.

The fight culminated in the first round with Pereira’s stunning knockout victory. This win was a significant statement from Pereira, establishing him as a formidable threat in the middleweight division. For Strickland, the loss was a setback, but it also highlighted the level of competition in the UFC and the need for constant evolution to stay at the top. The fight was a reminder of the unpredictability and thrill of mixed martial arts, where a single moment can dramatically alter the outcome.

#4 Sean Strickland vs Jared Cannonier



Sean Strickland’s showdown with Jared Cannonier took place on December 17, 2022, at UFC Fight Night. This middleweight bout was highly anticipated due to the contrasting styles and stakes involved. Strickland, known for his technical striking and resilience, was coming off a loss and eager to reassert his position in the division. Cannonier, recognized for his formidable power and striking ability, aimed to solidify his status as a top contender in the division.

As the fight commenced, both fighters approached with caution, respecting each other’s abilities. Strickland showcased his jab, using it to maintain distance and gauge Cannonier’s approach. Cannonier, on the other hand, looked for opportunities to unleash his powerful strikes. The initial rounds were marked by tactical exchanges, with both fighters looking to establish dominance without exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

A notable moment came when Cannonier managed to close the distance, unleashing a series of powerful strikes that put Strickland on the defensive. Strickland, known for his durability, absorbed the blows and continued to rely on his technical striking to counter Cannonier’s power.

As the fight progressed, it became a battle of attrition, with both fighters landing significant strikes. Cannonier’s power was evident in his punches, but Strickland’s technical skills and movement allowed him to evade the most dangerous attacks and respond with precise combinations.

The fight culminated in a decision, with Jared Cannonier emerging as the winner. His ability to land more impactful strikes and control the pace of the fight in key moments played a significant role in the judges’ decision. For Strickland, the loss was a reflection of the competitive nature of the middleweight division and the need to continuously evolve to compete with the top fighters. 

#5 Sean Strickland vs Dricus du Plessis



Sean Strickland’s matchup with Dricus du Plessis at UFC 276 on July 2, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada, was a highly anticipated fight in the middleweight division. Strickland, a rising contender known for his striking and tactical approach, faced du Plessis, an emerging talent with a reputation for his dynamic fighting style and finishing ability.

The fight’s background set the stage for an exciting clash of styles. Strickland, coming off a string of impressive victories, was looking to solidify his position in the division. Du Plessis, known for his aggressive striking and submission skills, was seeking a statement win to climb the ranks. Both fighters were known for their willingness to engage and put on a show, making this matchup an intriguing prospect for MMA fans.

As the fight commenced, Strickland and du Plessis engaged in a tactical battle, with both fighters looking for openings to assert their game plan. Strickland’s strategy focused on his jab and maintaining distance, while du Plessis looked to close the gap and unleash his powerful strikes.

One of the notable moments in the fight came when du Plessis managed to find his range, landing a series of significant strikes that put Strickland under pressure. Du Plessis’s ability to mix up his attack with kicks and punches showcased his versatility and kept Strickland guessing.

The culmination of the fight was dramatic and decisive. In a swift and stunning moment, du Plessis landed a powerful right hand that caught Strickland off guard, sending him to the canvas. The precision and timing of the punch were remarkable, demonstrating du Plessis’s striking prowess. Strickland, known for his durability, was unable to recover, resulting in a knockout victory for du Plessis.

This victory for Dricus du Plessis was a significant moment in his career, as it marked his arrival as a serious contender in the middleweight division. For Sean Strickland, the fight was a setback, but it also offered valuable lessons in facing high-caliber opponents like du Plessis. 

#6 Sean Strickland vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos



The fight between Sean Strickland and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC 224 on May 12, 2018, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was a high-stakes encounter in the welterweight division. Strickland, known for his technical striking and resilience, faced off against dos Santos, a fighter celebrated for his dynamic striking style and formidable stand-up game.

The match began with both fighters cautiously gauging each other, but it was dos Santos who quickly took the initiative. He showcased his striking prowess with a series of aggressive attacks, keeping Strickland on the defensive. The Brazilian fighter’s combination of speed and power was evident as he executed precise and impactful strikes.

A pivotal moment in the fight came when dos Santos landed a spinning wheel kick, catching Strickland off-guard and sending him to the canvas. This moment of sheer technical brilliance highlighted dos Santos’s diverse striking arsenal and changed the course of the fight. Strickland, known for his durability, was visibly shaken by the impact.

Following the kick, dos Santos capitalized on his advantage and swarmed Strickland with a barrage of strikes. Despite Strickland’s attempts to defend and recover, dos Santos’s relentless pressure and precise striking proved overwhelming. The fight culminated in a knockout victory for Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, marking a significant triumph in his career and showcasing his striking skills at a high level.

This bout was a testament to dos Santos’s ability to combine technical skill with explosive power, and it further solidified his position as a dangerous striker in the welterweight division. For Strickland, the fight was a challenging moment in his career but also a learning experience in facing top-tier strikers like dos Santos.


Sean Strickland’s career in MMA, it’s clear that his path has been as challenging as it has been enlightening. His losses to Santiago Ponzinibbio, Kamaru Usman, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Alex Pereira, Jared Cannonier, and Dricus du Plessis serve as significant milestones, each offering its own set of lessons and insights.

These bouts were more than just defeats; they were critical learning experiences that shaped Strickland as a competitor. Facing off against some of the toughest fighters in the sport, Strickland encountered a variety of fighting styles and strategies. These encounters forced him to adapt, reevaluate his techniques, and grow as a martial artist.

The resilience Strickland displayed following these setbacks speaks volumes about his character. In a sport as demanding as MMA, it’s not just about how many fights you win, but how you bounce back from losses. Strickland’s journey highlights the importance of persistence, adaptability, and continuous self-improvement.

Strickland’s story is a real-world example of the highs and lows that come with a career in professional fighting. It’s a reminder that in MMA, as in life, challenges can be transformative. For anyone following his journey, Strickland’s experiences offer a raw and honest look at what it takes to compete at the highest levels of the sport.


Who is Sean Strickland?

Sean Strickland is a professional MMA fighter born on February 27, 1991, in New Bern, North Carolina. He began training in martial arts at a young age and transitioned to professional MMA in 2008. Known for his aggressive style and technical striking, Strickland has made a significant impact in the middleweight division.

What is Sean Strickland’s fighting style?

Strickland’s fighting style is characterized by a blend of striking and grappling. He is known for his orthodox stance, precision striking, and defensive tactics, often utilizing a mix of boxing skills and wrestling defensively.

How did Sean Strickland begin his MMA career?

Strickland started his MMA journey with local fighting circuits, quickly making a name for himself through his skills and competitive spirit. He debuted professionally in MMA in 2008, showcasing his technical skills and mental toughness.

What are some of Sean Strickland’s significant MMA achievements?

Strickland boasts several achievements, including the highest significant strike defense rate among active middleweight fighters in the UFC. He is also recognized for employing the Philly Shell guard and his effective use of boxing skills in his fights.

What challenges has Sean Strickland faced in his personal life?

Strickland has overcome personal challenges, including the loss of his father to cancer in 2017. He has openly spoken about the abuse he suffered from his father, which has significantly impacted his life and career.

How has Sean Strickland’s fighting style evolved over his career?

Over his career, Strickland’s fighting style has evolved to include a more strategic approach, blending his striking accuracy with effective defensive tactics. He has adapted his techniques to face various opponents with different fighting styles.

What lessons has Sean Strickland learned from his MMA defeats?

Strickland’s defeats have been pivotal in shaping his career, teaching him the importance of adaptability, resilience, and continuous improvement. Each loss has offered insights into different fighting styles and strategies, contributing to his growth as a martial artist.

Who has defeated Sean Strickland in his MMA career?

Strickland has faced defeats from fighters like Santiago Ponzinibbio, Kamaru Usman, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Alex Pereira, Jared Cannonier, and Dricus du Plessis. These defeats have been significant learning experiences in his career.

What impact have Sean Strickland’s losses had on his career?

Strickland’s losses have been transformative, challenging him to reevaluate and refine his techniques. They have highlighted the competitive nature of MMA and the need for continuous evolution to stay at the top in the sport.

What is Sean Strickland’s outlook and future plans in MMA?

Strickland remains determined and focused on his MMA career, continuously seeking to improve and adapt. His future plans involve competing at the highest levels, with aspirations to leave a lasting legacy in the sport.

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