Sean Strickland (26-5 MMA) has given his side on how his next matchup against Abus Magomedov (25-4-1 MMA) came together.

Strickland’s bout against Magomedov is now set for July 1st and will be his second appearance in the Octagon in 2023. 

The 32-year-old’s latest outing was a win against another unranked UFC prospect, Nassourdine Imavov (12-4 MMA) in what was the first main event of 2023.

‘Tarzan’s’ convincing unanimous decision victory over Imavov was a much-needed confidence boost following his controversial loss to Jared Cannonier in 2022

Although Sean Strickland was unable to get the finish, his performance was impressive enough as he displayed the difference in competition between the top 15 and the rest of the UFC middleweights.

Sean Strickland wanted a middleweight showdown against Paulo Costa

Despite Strickland’s eagerness to stay active in the UFC, the California native expressed it hasn’t been easy finding his next dance partner. 

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In a recent interview with ‘Helen Yee Sports’, Sean Strickland explained that the UFC was going to put him on ice for a few months if he didn’t take the fight against Magomedov. However, he claims that the UFC tried to find him an opponent within the top 10 but they turned the fight down. 

“The UFC came to me and they said ‘Sean, there’s- we asked a couple of top 10 guys, they said no,’ the UFC asked them, they said no, so they said ‘We’re going to be benching you for six to eight months until somebody opens up or you fight this guy [Magomedov],'” Strickland exclaimed.

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“I said ‘UFC, that’s f***ed up but I like the fight, I like to make money,’ I like to make money so I said yes.”

Further on in the interview, Strickland suggested a fight against fan favorite, Paulo Costa (14-2 MMA) was the fight the UFC was looking to materialize. 

Nevertheless, Strickland disclosed that the matchup never manifested, adding that the failure to get the fight booked was due to negotiation issues between the UFC and Costa. 

“It should’ve been that dirty Brazilian Paulo Costa,” Strickland stated.

“Costa, me and you, we should’ve done the f***ing man dance, I don’t know what the f**k happened dude… Me and Costa dude, we should’ve been f***ing fighting, we should’ve been fighting dude, but you’re too busy playing games with the UFC being a f***ing woman, and now you take this f***ing great fight that could’ve happened and you f***ing ruined it. Costa, you ruined it.” 

For MMA fans this will seem like a missed opportunity. Considering the outrageously unpredictable personalities of both Sean Strickland and Paulo Costa, the build-up to a fight between the two would certainly be must-watch television.

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Instead, both competitors will find themselves against some of the UFC’s newly touted 185lbs prospects, with Costa also penciled in to go toe to toe with Ikram Aliskerov (14-1 MMA) at UFC 291, on July 29th.

Do you think Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa will ever happen in the UFC?

Combat sports journalist based out of the UK. Follow @OliverBrockett on Twitter for all things MMA and Boxing.