Exclusive: Coach claims Sean Strickland almost fought Khamzat Chimaev, huge title rematch also in the mix

Coach reveals Sean Strickland
Coach reveals Sean Strickland's (left) near bout with Khamzat Chimaev (right), teases epic title rematch [Images courtesy: @khamzat_chimaev on Instagram and Getty Images]

Sean Strickland's coach recently said that the former middleweight champion came close to booking a fight against Khamzat Chimaev, but the matchup fell through for some reason. Strickland is scheduled to face former title challenger Paulo Costa in the co-main event of UFC 302.

The sixth pay-per-view event of 2024 is set to take place on June 1 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

'Tarzan' secured the 185-pound title with a unanimous decision victory over then-champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 last September. However, the 33-year-old Californian lost his title to Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297 in January following a disputed split decision loss.

During an exclusive interview with James Lynch for Sportskeeda MMA, Strickland's head coach Eric Nicksick stated that 'Tarzan' was initially presented with the opportunity to fight 'Borz' in the main event of UFC Saudi Arabia.

However, Nicksick explained that apparent travel restrictions for his protege prevented the fight from coming to fruition:

"I know they [UFC] were hoping for maybe Khamzat, but I don't think Sean can travel to Saudi Arabia or something; I'm not 100% sure. But I know Khamzat's name was possibly kicked around. Khamzat is going to be a big draw in Saudi, and that fight is more about location than it was about the opponent, in my opinion."

He also shared that Du Plessis' team had discussions about a potential title rematch with Strickland:

"I talked to Dricus. Dricus is a class act, man. I really enjoyed having a conversation with them, and we discussed the fight. They said that they were asking for a rematch for Sean, and they were trying to get the rematch."

Check out Eric Nicksick's comments below (5:24):

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Strickland was reportedly offered a last-minute bout against 'Borz' with less than a month's notice, as disclosed by Nicksick in an interview with ESPN MMA last November.

However, Strickland's team declined the opportunity due to inadequate preparation time.


Eric Nicksick gives his prediction for Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa

In the same interview with Sportskeeda MMA, Eric Nicksick was questioned about his prediction for Sean Strickland's upcoming five-round matchup against Paulo Costa at UFC 302. Nicksick confidently responded that he sees the fight favoring 'Tarzan', with a finish likely taking place in either of the later rounds:

"I think Sean can get him out there by round four or round five." [8:35]

'Borrachinha' suffered a unanimous decision defeat in his last fight against Robert Whittaker at UFC 298 in February.

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Edited by Anurag Mitra
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