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Sean Strickland’s ‘next fight should definitely be for the championship’

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Jon Anik campaigns for a Sean Strickland title shot after UFC 302.

After losing his middleweight title to Dricus Du Plessis in January, Strickland (29-6 MMA, 16-6 UFC) rebounded by defeating Paulo Costa in this past Saturday’s UFC 302 co-main event. He demanded a title shot after the win.

Anik agrees with Strickland. He thinks the former UFC middleweight champion has stepped up for the company on numerous occasions before.

Sean Strickland vows to wait 'as long as it takes' for title shot after UFC  302, slams inactive fighters - MMA Fighting

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“I thought he fought great,” Anik told MMA on Sirius XM. “I thought he could have waited for a championship opportunity and didn’t. I mean, has anyone stepped up for the UFC more than Sean Strickland?

“The main event against Nassourdine Imavov, the main event against Abus Magomedov – both of those had circumstances in which he was stepping up for the UFC, and those came on the back end of him putting his No. 4 ranking on the line against Alex Pereira when no one in the top 10 would’ve fought him at UFC 276. So if anyone deserves to sit right now for 12 months after essentially dominating Paulo Costa, it’s Sean Strickland.”

Strickland’s fight with Costa drew boos from the crowd, and prompted UFC CEO Dana White to say it wasn’t the fight he expected. Anik thinks it’s unfair for Strickland’s performance to be criticized.

“In no other sport do you have to win and entertain. Even in a 1-0 baseball game – and I said this on my podcast this week – everybody’s giving the pitcher credit,” Anik said. “Sean Strickland essentially just pitched a shutout against a very dangerous man in the top seven. I’m not sure what he was supposed to do.

“I know Eric Nicksick came over and apologized to Hunter (Campbell) and Dana a little bit. I knew it wasn’t the fight we expected. I thought it was going to be the Fight of the Night. But Sean Strickland – his skills never lead the conversation because of his personality, and I think his skills need to lead the conversation and his next fight should definitely be for the championship.”

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