Sean Strickland put the spotlight on himself in his first UFC press conference.
Well known for making highly controversial statements on social media, Strickland began the afternoon at the UFC 276 pre-fight press conference somewhat toned down on stage at the T-Mobile Arena after admitting that UFC officials asked him to be on his best behavior.
“The UFC was on top of me right from the start,” Strickland said to the crowd. “This is my first press conference. You guys are a bunch of vicious bastards. I need to calm down.
“I’m probably the only guy who shouldn’t be here. That’s how you know the UFC need to recruit a little bit more, you put me up on this f****** stage. But no, it’s all good. I’m going to do this for a long time. I can shut up and not say the ‘F’ word.”
While Strickland made plenty of noise throughout, it was a question aimed at him about naming the best striker in the middleweight division that really amped up the animosity between the UFC contender and the reigning 185-pound champion Israel Adesanya.
The exchange began after Strickland referenced Adesanya’s two losses to his upcoming opponent Alex Pereira, who beat “The Last Stylebender” in kickboxing, including a vicious knockout in their rematch back in 2017.
“I would say me [I’m the best striker] but that man [Alex Pereira] was the one who slept that man [Israel Adesanya]. So next to me, probably Alex,” Strickland answered. “What was it 2-0 against Izzy? Izzy, what was it? 2-0?”
That comment got a rise out of Adesanya, who fired back at Strickland while reminding everybody listening that he had Pereira in trouble early in their second fight before he suffered a brutal knockout in the third round.
“Did you watch the whole fight? Exactly, do your f****** job next time,” Adesanya shouted at Strickland. “What happened before we walked on stage? I smacked you on the ass like my b****.”
Strickland’s tirade aimed at Adesanya didn’t stop there, as he continued insulting him as well as Adesanya’s well-documented passion for anime, which only added fuel to the fire. Strickland also casually tossed a homophobic slur into his diatribe.
“Oh man, I made the champion mad with his f****** frosted tips and his gay little watch, oh no!” Strickland said. “I’m just joking. Izzy is a savage. Bro, your Pornhub is just filled with cartoons. No man who beats off to cartoons is going to beat me. Calm down.”
The back-and-forth exchange continued, although Adesanya was often times overshadowed by Strickland’s booming voice on the microphone.
“Bro, trust me, if you win this fight, when we fight, I knock you out, I’m going to do a TikTok dance over your grave,” Adesanya said. “You better focus on your guy. He’s going to f*** you up, too.”
Not to be outdone, Strickland came right back at Adesanya, and even addressed the past allegations aimed at the champion over performance-enhancing drug use.
Of course, Adesanya was just awarded with a jacket by the UFC for 50 consecutive clean tests under the United States Anti-Doping Agency. During the ceremony, Adesanya offered a $3 million bounty for anybody who could prove he had ever taken any illegal substances.
“I’ll give the guy credit, he’s the champion,” Strickland said. “He did have one b***** titty. I don’t know what that was all about. I’m not calling the man a liar. Real talk, I don’t think Izzy does steroids. I just like to make fun of him. A lot of the s*** is not true. Maybe the steroids aren’t true. But the jerking off to cartoons is true.
“Izzy, he’s a good guy, he’s a solid guy. I don’t judge his cartoon porn addiction. I’m not going to be that guy.”
As far as his own fight goes on Saturday, Strickland did pay homage to Pereira as an incredibly tough opponent, who promises to bring the battle to him with a long list of striking accolades on his resume before he came to the UFC.
That remains Strickland’s primary focus, even if he still managed to take sideways shots at Adesanya again while addressing his fight with Pereira.
“Alex is a big, scary f****** Brazilian,” Strickland said. “I think we all admit that. You’re at an ATM and this motherf***** walks behind you in the middle of the night, tell me you’re going to be walking away? He’s a tough dude. I’ve trained with plenty of good kickboxers. I think I can handle it.
“After we have a war and I beat Alex, you’re going to see I’m a whole different guy. I’m going to start painting my nails, acting like a female. I’ll be wearing sunglasses inside. I’m going to get me suits. I’m going to get me a nice car. I’m going to trade in my 2018 Nissan Frontier, get me a Porsche. Just f****** wait. I’m going to leave all you guys behind. I’m going to be the best champion you’ve ever seen.”