Sean Strickland Enjoys Sparring Francis Ngannou: ‘I Want To Feel Close To Death’

    ByRoss Markey

    Jan 4, 2022

    According to Xtreme Couture head coach, Eric Nicksick, UFC middleweight contender, Sean Strickland routinely offers to spar and train alongside reigning heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou – in a bid to find near-death experiences.

    The outspoken, Strickland, is slated to take main event status at UFC Vegas 47 on February 5. against Jack Hermansson – attempting to extend his winning streak to six straight fights. 

    Most recently featuring back in July, the #7 ranked, Strickland took home a unanimous decision victory over Uriah Hall, before making headlines post-fight after he admitted that he has fantasized about routinely killing opponents inside the Octagon.

    Strickland would then claim that is continually fighting the urge to commit violent crimes and event carry out murder and manslaughter, noting multiple scenarios in which he resisted the urge to inflict physical injury or attack civilians.

    Expected to make his Octagon return back in November at UFC 268, Strickland saw his planned Madison Square Garden clash with the returning former middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold cancelled after the latter suffered a herniated disc in the weeks before the bout.

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    Preparing for next month’s headlining slot against the tricky, Hermansson, Strickland, as per coach Nicksick is more than willing to share the training room with Ngannou, and even spar with the heavyweight knockout artist.

    “That dude (Sean Strickland) will literally spar anybody in our gym,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “He calls Francis (Ngannou) out every sparring session. He loves to spar Francis because he goes, ‘I want to feel as close to death as possible and I want to have that fear of God in my heart every time I spar a guy like Francis Ngannou.’ So sure, we throw him in there and let him get some rounds with Francis. I watched him and Roy Nelson get after it (spar) last week. Those two try to knock each other’s heads off and here’s Sean Strickland, big old smile ear-to-ear.”

    “You feel like at any moment Francis could just (land) and knock his lights our if he wants to, but Francis, to his credit, he’s done a really good job of keeping his sparring partners intact,” Nicksick explained. “That’s been the challenge a lot of times having Francis in your gym is keeping guys alive and around that you can give him the rounds that he needs. So I usually have a, ‘Hey, don’t break your toys’ and he’ll ease off.” 

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    Nicksick insisted that despite the size discrepancy between the two, Strickland turns in an admirable performance against the Cameroonian bruiser.

    “The rounds between him (Francis Ngannou) and Sean (Strickland) are actually very competitive,” Nicksick said. “Sean gets in there and gets after it and Francis will entertain him if you will, and not knock him out. There’s some great rounds and credit to Sean, not everybody is chomping at the bit to hop in the cage with Francis.”

    Sean Strickland then personally commented on the matter, via his official Twitter account.

    “Everyone ask me how do I do with francious lol!!” Strickland wrote. “I will tell you that I do really well with him with 16 Gloves in the GYM lol!!! bottom line is you put 4 ounce gloves on him in a FIGHT and he touches me once and I will go to dreamland!!!! LOL”

    While Strickland prepares for his February outing against Hermansson, Ngannou is less than 20 days out from his heavyweight title unification bout against interim heavyweight Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 later this month.

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