Sean Strickland’s Girlfriend Deserves Credit For Title Win Says His Coach

There’s been a lot of theories going around about how Sean Strickland managed to beat long-time middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya to win the title last weekend at UFC 293, but perhaps the most unexpected one comes from his coach Eric Nicksick, who credits the often-controversial star’s girlfriend, KJ, for helping make him a better man.

“She was the MVP, to be honest with you,” Nicksick said of KJ on The MMA Hour show. “She deserved a lot of this credit, because I said publicly that… I told her right after the win, I gave her a big old hug and I was, like, ‘You showed him it’s OK to love and be loved. And you’ve provided him an opportunity to open his heart, to be coached, to be coachable.’

“She changed that man’s life.”

“There’s such a different dynamic, that it actually works. She keeps him in check. He’s walking around the hotel, ‘My love,’ and hugs… who the hell is this guy?

“She’s not gonna make him soft, he’s still rough around the edges. He’s still Sean. But it’s a slow burn. It’s a slow process.

“But what she’s allowed him to feel and open his heart to, honest to god, that’s probably why we have a belt wrapped around our waist. It’s because of that relationship.”

That echoes similar sentiments from Strickland’s training partner Chris Curtis, who has also stated that Strickland’s girlfriend has helped change him for the better.

“That week KJ was there with him… People always give me credit like, Oh, you helped change Sean. Like, No, man. She’s turned Sean to a different animal,” Curtis said. “It’s not even bad, but she’s definitely made him step up the person he was, which is really cool.”

“As straight, as it is, nothing changes a man quite like a woman,” Curtis added. “So there’s that motivation. So you got the woman you love on your arm and you got the USC belt on the other. He’s winning life,”

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.