Sean Strickland will wait for UFC title shot opposed to fighting Robert Whittaker next

MMA: UFC 302-Strickland vs Costa
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday at UFC Saudi Arabia, former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (26-7) was back in action as he took on Ikram Aliskerov (15-2). Whittaker was originally supposed to face Khamzat Chimaev, but Aliskerov stepped in due to Chimaev coming down with an illness that forced him out of the fight.

The former champion ran through Aliskerov stopping him in under two minutes. It was Whittaker’s second straight win since he was stopped last summer by current champion Dricus Du Plessis. Whittaker is currently ranked third in the middleweight rankings behind the champion, Israel Adesanya, and Sean Strickland (29-6).

Strickland is coming off a one-sided decision win over Paulo Costa earlier this month at UFC 302. After that fight was over, Strickland made it clear that he would wait for a title shot. Strickland completely dominated Israel Adesanya last September to win the title before losing it to Dricus Du Plessis in a razor close split decision. A decision that many in the media like myself and UFC CEO Dana White thought Strickland won.

Strickland isn’t interested in Whittaker after UFC Saudi Arabia

Strickland took to social media yesterday because many are asking him to fight Robert Whittaker instead of waiting. DDP and Israel Adesanya are settling their grudge match for the title in August and Strickland has his eyes on the winner. Despite Whittaker’s two straight wins, Strickland isn’t interested in facing the former champion.

Nobody should take issue with Strickland’s stance and he makes great points. The reality is that Robert Whittaker is 0-2 against Israel Adesanya and he was knocked out by DDP. Strickland dominated Adesanya and again, many believe that he should’ve walked out of UFC 297 the champion and not Du Plessis.

With the performance he had against Adesanya and with how close the DDP fight was, he honestly deserved an immediate rematch. However, the UFC wanted to do the Adesanya fight and Strickland did the promotion a favor by fighting a five-round fight with Paulo Costa. Strickland is right in his thinking and if I was him, there’s no way I’d take a Whittaker fight when I can just wait for a rematch with either Adesanya or Dricus Du Plessis.

With Whittaker, that likely lines him up for a potential bout with Nassourdine Imavov which I could see happening when the UFC returns to Paris. The winner of that fight could fight the winner of Strickland – Adesanya / Du Plessis 2.

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