Coach confirms Sean Strickland turned down UFC 294 title fight with Khamzat Chimaev: ‘It didn’t make any sense’

Sean Strickland denies Khamzat Chimaev title fight he only sells tickets UFC

Undisputed middleweight champion, Sean Strickland’s head coach, Eric Nicksick has confirmed how his student and team did, in fact, reject an offer on just over a weeks’ notice to defend the crown at UFC 294 last month against the unbeaten, Khamzat Chiamev – citing how a quick turnaround made little sense. 

Strickland, the current undisputed middleweight champion, most recently turned in a shocking upset win over former two-time divisional titleholder, Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 back in September in Sydney, Australia – landing a hugely one-sided unanimous decision win over the City Kickboxing staple over the course of five rounds.

And ahead of UFC 294 last month, following the withdrawal of Paulo Costa from a fight with Chimaev, and prior to the short-notice insertion of former welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman into the bout, reports surfacing claiming Strickland had rejected a short-notice title defense against the Chechnya native.

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Sean Strickland rejected short-notice title fight with Khamzat Chimaev

Confirming those reports earlier this week, Sean Strickland’s coach, Nicksick detailed that while his student had no issue fighting on such short notice, a quickfire turnaround against Chimaev made no sense, having previously drafted in to fight Adesanya on less than six weeks notice ‘Down Under’.

“From my understanding, they [the UFC] did [offer Sean Strickland a title fight with Khamzat Chimaev],” Eric Nicksick told ESPN. “They just threw it out there to see if he would be available. When Sean had asked me, to be honest, I was the one that kind of said no. I was like, bro, I can’t be there – like we can go out there, but it didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever as a champion to take a short notice fight against a killer.”

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“Sean can fight anybody on any day’s notice, we know that he has done it in the past,” Nicksick explained. “But, why is it our responsibility to go put our title on the line on short notice when we already did them [the UFC] a solid by fighting Izzy (Israel Adesanya) on five-and-a-half weeks’ notice?”

Fearing he had suffered a fractured hand in the immediate aftermath of his eventual decision win over Usman, Chimaev is set to avoid a surgical procedure, with his manager confirming how the undefeated challenger has instead suffered a ligament tear in his hand, and will wear a supportive brace for a period of time. 

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Do you expect to see Sean Strickland fight Khamzat Chimaev next year for the title?