WATCH: Sean Strickland spars with Bellator star Johnny Eblen just hours before UFC 302

WATCH: Sean Strickland spars with Bellator star Johnny Eblen just hours before UFC 302

Former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland isn’t pulling any punches ahead of his Octagon return against Paulo Costa.

Sean Strickland, Johnny Eblen

Strickland and Costa will fight in the UFC 302 co-main event on Saturday in Newark. The matchup is a potential No. 1 contender fight and a chance for Strickland to make a great case for another middleweight title shot.

Strickland is known to spar significantly more and get his way less, than most of his UFC colleagues. His training is directed by sparring with other brawlers at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, including fellow contender Chris Curtis.

Ahead of his UFC return, Strickland invited Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen to spar just hours ahead of UFC 302. It’s a unique move for a fighter of Strickland’s caliber to have a hard sparring session so close to fight night.

Strickland and Eblen are two of the top middleweights in the world, and iron sharpened iron during UFC 302 fight week.

Watch Strickland and Eblen’s pre-UFC 302 sparring session below.

Sean Strickland spars hard before Paulo Costa showdown

While it appears that Strickland nor Eblen sustained significant damage in their sparring session, it was an intriguing chess match between two of the best fighters on Earth.

Strickland hopes to earn another middleweight title shot after a close loss to Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297 in January. Before that, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by defeating Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in September.

Eblen is fresh off a gritty win over 2023 PFL light heavyweight champ Impa Kasanganay earlier this year. He’s expected to face either Fabian Edwards or Costello van Steenis for his next Bellator middleweight title defense.

Strickland is hoping to earn another big win this Saturday in Newark at UFC 302. If his recent sparring session with Eblen is any indication of what his performance could look like, he’s locked in ahead of his clash with Costa.

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