Sean Strickland reportedly turned down offer to defend middleweight title against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294

By Susan Cox - October 20, 2023

Sean Strickland reportedly turned down an offer to defend his middleweight title against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294.

Sean Strickland, UFC, Bonus, UFC 293

It was originally to have been Khamzat Chimaev (12-0 MMA) vs. Paulo Costa (14-2 MMA) at UFC 294. Costa had to withdraw due to a serious staph infection.

By all reports, it was Kamaru Usman (20-3 MMA) stepping in, with only 10 days notice, to replace Costa.

Now….. word is that it was Sean Strickland who got the first call when Costa withdrew.

ESPN‘ is reporting that the newly-crowned middleweight champion, Strickland, was offered his first title defence against Chimaev at UFC 294 but declined because of the very short notice. ‘Tarzan’ had just fought and defeated Israel Adesanya (24-3 MMA) by unanimous decision last month at UFC 293, claiming the title belt as his own.

Reportedly, after Strickland turned down the offer, the second call was made to Jared Cannonier (17-6 MMA). ‘The Killa Gorilla’ was dealing with an injury he suffered in training camp and was therefore unable to take the fight.

And then the call was made to Kamaru Usman.

Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz told ‘ESPN’ when the call came:

“Kamaru — his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. I was like, ‘This guy knows something I don’t know.’ And he’s like, ‘Hey, they’re gonna take care of me (financially)?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Obviously a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes when a fighter withdraws from a strategic fight.

Usman, 36, was obviously elated to get the call and more than willing to accept the fight with ‘Borz’.

However, it could have been an entirely different fight should Strickland or Cannonier stepped up first.

What is your prediction for Usman vs. Chimaev?

Share your thoughts in the comment section PENN Nation!


Khamzat Chimaev Sean Strickland UFC