Sean Strickland climbs back into win column with split decision over Paulo Costa – UFC 302 Highlights

Sean Strickland climbs back into the win column with split decision win over Paulo Costa - UFC 302 Highlights

In the UFC 302 co-main event of the evening, former middleweight world champion Sean Strickland returned to the Octagon for the first time since surrendering the 185–crown to current titleholder Dricus Du Plessis. 

Standing in his way of a return to the win column was division fan favorite and one-time title challenger Paulo Costa.

Costa immediately came out landing a handful of big leg kicks that had Strickland compromised early. With his calf already welting, ‘Tarzan’ switched stances and put on the pressure, forcing Costa on his backfoot for the entirety of the round. 

Strickland punished Costa’s midsection with a slew of front kicks to the body, a trend the former champ continued in the second round. With 30 seconds left in the round, Strickland landed a stiff left jab against the fence that momentarily took Costa off his feet. 

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Sean Strickland

Strickland delivered perhaps his most dominant showing in the third round, but Costa slowly began to turn the tide in the fourth, standing his ground and refusing to allow ‘Tarzan’ to back him up. 

With the fight potentially hanging in the balance, Strickland’s corner encouraged him to “let the dog out” in round five.

Despite the advice of his corner, Strickland stayed the course, moving forward and chipping away at his opponent with a bevy of jabs and front kicks. Halfway through the final round, Costa had more than doubled the output of his opponent. With Strickland not landing anything of significance to close the gap, Costa likely took the round, but was it enough to win the fight? 

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Official Result: Sean Strickland def. Paulo Costa via split decision (46-49, 50-45, 49-46)

Check Out Highlights From Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa at UFC 302: