MMA Twitter is in awe of Sean Strickland's clinical UFC 302 performance

Sean Strickland put on a boxing clinic against Paulo Costa at UFC 302.
UFC 302 Weigh-in
UFC 302 Weigh-in / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland made a great case for the next title shot with a largely dominant performance at UFC 302. Strickland defeated former UFC title challenger Paulo Costa by split decision. His boxing, pace, and pressure were too much for Costa to overcome, especially as the fight played out. Here's what UFC fighters and pundits had to say about Strickland's win.

Round 1 between Strickland and Costa featured the former titleholder utilizing his nonstop forward pressure. Costa was able to utilize leg kicks to stifle Strickland's left leg, forcing Strickland to move to a southpaw stance. But, Strickland's front body kicks appeared to wilt Costa in the closing seconds of the opening round.

Strickland was able to time Costa's leg kicks much better in Round 2, checking the strikes consistently. Costa countered Strickland's forward pressure with body jabs with precise timing. In the closing minute of Round 2, Strickland appeared to wear out Costa with his pressure and pace, fatiguing the former title challenger.

Sean Strickland remains the top 185-pound contender

Rounds 3, 4, and 5 were clinical from Strickland. He never hit the brakes on his forward-focused game plan and forced Costa to lunge into the pocket for any hope of a landed strike. While Costa had a nice bounce-back in Round 5, landing some solid body strikes, he remained on the back foot. After five rounds, Strickland coasted on the two of the judges' scorecards, with one judge scoring it 49-46 for Costa.

Strickland entered UFC 302 looking to get back on track after a loss to Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297. Before the Du Plessis defeat, Strickland pulled off arguably one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by outpointing Israel Adesanya at UFC 293. Strickland rose the middleweight ranks when he made the full-time return to the 185-pound division in 2020.

A six-fight winning streak moved Strickland into title contention after an impressive split-decision victory over Jack Hermansson. Back-to-back losses to Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier preceded wins over Nassourdine Imavov, Abus Magomedov, and Adesanya for Strickland. During his ups and downs in the Octagon, he's become a favorite of many UFC fans.

Costa entered UFC 302 from losses in three of his last four fights. After a nearly two-year hiatus, he most recently lost by unanimous decision to Robert Whittaker at UFC 298. Despite the loss to Whittaker, Costa showed signs of his former self inside the Octagon.

He performed gritty against former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in his most recent victory. Costa entered UFC 302 looking to get back in the middleweight mix and work towards another title shot after a loss in 2020. He fell to Adesanya at UFC 253 in his first career UFC title fight.

Costa's rise into the middleweight rankings was led by a 13-fight winning streak to begin his professional career, including a UFC debut knockout in March 2017. Four of his first five UFC wins came by knockout. Costa earned the attention of the division when he put on a clinic against Yoel Romero at UFC 241.

The win over Costa puts Strickland right back in the mix in the middleweight title picture. FanSided MMA has you covered with all the latest from UFC 302 in Newark. Check out the latest live results and highlights you might've missed here.


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