UFC great explains why every gym ‘needs’ a guy like Sean Strickland

UFC legend Dan Henderson says gyms could use a training partner like Sean Strickland.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 1 month ago
UFC great explains why every gym ‘needs’ a guy like Sean Strickland
Dan Himbrechts / AAP, IMAGO

Reigning UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland holds a reputation for being a bit of a wild man in the gym. A few clips of his sparring sessions surfaced over the years, showing ‘Tarzan’ going hard and even knocking out one of his training partners with a head kick to the jaw

But according to this UFC legend, Strickland is someone that gyms could use to have around. 

Dan Henderson says gyms ‘need’ a training partner like Strickland

In his recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, UFC and MMA legend Dan Henderson recalled having a young Sean Strickland in his gym. He even revealed kicking Strickland out eventually for ‘disrespectful’ behavior. 

“Kind of had to let him go. He just kind of gets too involved talking shit about people.” 

But at the same time, Henderson sees value in having a training partner like Sean Strickland, who isn’t hesitant to go hard. 

Dan ?Hendo? Henderson ? No.12 UFC middleweight contender raises his arm at the end of the fight during the UFC 204 - Manchester match between Michael The Count BISPING and Dan Hendo Henderson at Manchester Arena , Hunts Bank, England on 9 October 2016. PMI-0695
Dan Henderson when he fought Michael Bisping in 2016. | AndyxRowland / PRiME Media Images, IMAGO

“I liked him in the gym. I liked him there, he was a great training partner. You need at least one guy in your gym that  does that and goes hard and makes everybody else go hard when they’re going against him.” 

Elite UFC fighters change their views on sparring

In recent years, a few elite names in the game saw a shift in their views on sparring. And these are known action fighters who perform with a stand-and-bang approach. 

Former featherweight champion Max Holloway dropped hard sparring from his training camp routine three years ago, and he advises fellow fighters to do the same

April 15, 2023, Kansas City, MO, Missouri, USA: KANSAS Kansas City, MO, MISSOURI - APRIL 15: (L-R) Max Holloway and Arnold Allen fight in a featherweight bout during UFC Fight Night Kansas City - Holloway vs Allen at T-Mobile Center on April 15th, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. Kansas City, MO USA - ZUMAp175 20230415_zsa_p175_161
Former UFC champ Max Holloway doesn’t believe in hard sparring. | Matt Davies / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

“You guys only get one brain. Save it. You guys don’t need to do it. You sparred enough. You trained enough. You know how to punch someone. You know how to slip a punch. Why even take unnecessary damage before the main game, you know?”

Hall of Fame inductee Donald Cerrone shares the same mindset. 

“I just feel like a guy at the Walmart check-in. Every time you hit your head, he’s clicking. How many people go into Walmart before it’s full? How many more do I got? 

“I don’t know. How many epic brawls did me and Leonard Garcia have in the training room? I don’t know,” he said in 2016

Sean Strickland shows different side in recent sparring session

What fans don’t usually see from Sean Strickland is his grappling game. The 32-year-old holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but he rarely gets to showcase this facet of his game because of his preference to keep the action on the feet. Only four wins ended by submission, all during his pre-UFC run. 

But this recent training session with former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink gives a peek at Strickland’s ground skills. 

As for his gym behavior, Strickland has shown more maturity. And Willink had nothing but praises. 

“Super nice guy. Humble. It was awesome to be able to hang out with him. Hell of a champion. It was pretty cool.” 

What’s next for Sean Strickland?

As the reigning champion, Strickland is a walking target for elite contenders. His next challenge likely happens against the undefeated Khamzat Chimaev, who won his title eliminator bout against Kamaru Usman at UFC 294. 

Chimaev, however, injured his hand during the fight and remains uncertain if he will require surgery. 

Strickland, however, isn’t sold on the idea of a title shot for Chimaev. 

“He doesn’t f—ing deserve it, but here we are,” Strickland said. “Give it to him. He sells a lot of fights. I’ll go f—ing fight the man for five rounds. But no, he has not earned it. Getting a decision over a welterweight off the couch does not f—ing earn it.”

Strickland captured the title at UFC 293 in September via a decisive win over Israel Adesanya. His current record stands at 28-5. 

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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