UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland is no stranger to controversy, and his appearance at UFC 296 led to yet another memorable incident. Strickland was seated next to grappling star Craig Jones, who gave his first-hand account of what transpired on a recent episode of his podcast.
According to Jones, Strickland arrived shortly before the Tony Ferguson vs Paddy Pimblett and immediately began discussing how “insane” and “crazy” Ferguson is. Strickland live-streamed parts of the Ferguson bout on Instagram, yelling loudly about how jiu-jitsu “doesn’t work” while Ferguson was unsuccessfully attempting submissions off his back.
Things got especially chaotic when light heavyweight contenders Dricus Du Plessis and Gilbert Burns, seated a few rows behind Strickland, were shown on the arena screens to promote their upcoming bout. Strickland turned and began trash talking Du Plessis, then actually leapt over seats to get at him, all while Jones watched in stunned disbelief.
“Strickland basically turns around and Dricus is out, showing them face off,” Jones recounted. “Strickland’s pretending to pretending to shoot him. Yeah. And then start going back and forth.”
According to Jones, at one point Strickland even politely warned Burns to move his family before continuing his attempt to brawl with Du Plessis in the stands. The two had to be forcibly separated by security and matchmaker Mick Maynard.
While UFC President Dana White later stated it was a mistake to allow Strickland and Du Plessis such close seating proximity, Jones could not get over the sheer absurdity of witnessing another Strickland meltdown first-hand.
“It should have easily been predicted, but the funny thing for Dricus is like, Dricus is a god that’s now been in 2 of the biggest non fighting moments in the UFC,” Jones pointed out.
So for Jones, it was just another weekend on the Strickland rollercoaster. Whether inside the octagon or out, Strickland never fails to keep things interesting.