Coach thought UFC 293 title fight was about to be canceled after Sean Strickland punched a fan (Video)

Eric Nicksick thought Sean Strickland had blown his chance at the UFC 293 title fight after revealing he'd punched a fan.
Sean Strickland and Eric Nicksick
Sean Strickland and Eric Nicksick / Mark Evans/GettyImages

Sean Strickland's coach, Eric Nicksick, wasn't so sure the UFC 293 fight with Israel Adesanya was going to happen after Strickland revealed he'd hit a fan in Australia.

While speaking on The MMA Hour, Nicksick revealed what was happening behind the scenes after Strickland outed himself during an interview.

“We were walking on eggshells all week,” Nicksick said. “Honest to God, I thought we were going to get pulled. I really did. They went to the beach and Sean basically incriminates himself during fight week [in an interview], ‘Yeah, this guy comes up to me talking trash and I punched him in his belly.’ Apparently, the Australian government or whoever heard this, they got word of this, and it went downhill from there. It got to the point where they were flying John Crouch out from Arizona, from MMA Lab, to come out and corner Jared Cannonier."

Strickland revealed the incident with a fan to Fox Sports Australia saying he struck the fan after he approached him and said something negative.

“Initially, I thought the guy was coming up for a photo. Because anybody who wants a photo, man, I love the fans," he told the outlet of the incident which occurred on the Sunday before the fight.

“But if you wanna come up to me and run your f**king mouth, I’ll smack you like I smack anybody else," Strickland said. “Uppercut to his stomach. Then I walked away. But if I see the guy again, man, no problems … I’ll thank him for not pressing charges.”

Nicksick told Ariel Helwani that when he heard the news got out, he was sure they wouldn't allow Strickland to fight.

Eric Nicksick, thought 'They’re going to pull us from this card' after Sean Strickland hit a fan ahead of UFC 293

“When I heard that, I was like, ‘Bro, we’re off. They’re going to pull us from this card.’ Remember, these guys probably didn’t want Sean in this spot to begin with. We were walking on thin ice the moment we got there. Every fan that we had an interaction with, when I was there, absolutely adored Sean, loved him. Pictures, hugs, this and that.

We asked UFC CEO and president Dana White about the incident at the DWCS post-fight press conference and he laughed it off as a joke, but that the UFC would be making sure it didn't happen again (spoiler alert it did happen again when Strickland invited a fan up on stage to spar during his open workout).

“Then we go to the open workout, and I’m just thinking in my head, ‘This is an awful idea,” Nicksick said. “I’m looking at everybody, Dave Lockett, Megan Olivi, I’m like, ‘What kind of liability is this right now?’ I’m going to tell Sean, ‘Don’t hit this guy hard and don’t get cut. This is beyond stupid.’

Thankfully for everyone involved it all worked out, Strickland was able to fight and he would go on to shock the world with a five-round domination of Adesanya.

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