Is Sean Strickland a black belt?

Sean Strickland is a skilled MMA fighter, having even been a champion. But is he a black belt? [Image Courtesy: @ufc via X/Twitter]

Sean Strickland is a former UFC middleweight champion, having authored one of MMA's greatest-ever upsets to capture the belt from then 185-pound champion, striker extraordinaire Israel Adesanya. To beat him, 'Tarzan' had his finest defensive boxing performance to date, completely neutralizing his foe.

Such was the skill of his dissection of Adesanya, that many wondered if something was wrong with 'The Last Stylebender' before the fight. However, nothing was. Strickland was simply the better man. So, given the skill and technique he displayed, surely he has to be a black belt at something.

Though is a man as unconventional as Strickland someone who commits to traditional systems of martial arts progression or is he a rogue with disdain for authority? Whatever the truth is, he will put his skills on display at UFC 302 this Saturday, when he faces Paulo Costa.

Sean Strickland's MMA base

Sean Strickland is a boxer by trade, with his hallmarks inside the octagon being a sharp, punishing jab and an air-tight Philly Shell. The former middleweight champion often crowds his opponent's space with relentless pressure, never overcommitting to any punches beyond a left jab and right cross.

He isn't much of a kicker, nor does he pursue any wrestling or grappling sequences. Even with his striking, he isn't a prolific finisher. His TKO over Abusupiyan Magomedov on July 1, 2023, was his first finish in nearly three years at the time. Most of his wins are due to volume and points on the scorecards.

Is Sean Strickland a black belt?

As there is no such black belt ranking system in boxing, Sean Strickland does not hold such a distinction in that sport. He is, however, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Despite his skill on the mat, 'Tarzan' rarely ever uses his Brazilian jiu-jitsu in a non-defensive manner. In fact, early this year, Strickland threw his black belt away.

Check out the former champion throwing his black belt away:

He makes such little use of his grappling that only four of his 28 wins have come via submission, with his last one being a rear-naked choke over Bubba McDaniel at UFC 171 on his promotional debut in 2014: a decade ago. Despite his contempt for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, it remains his only black belt.

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