As always, injury is one of the great motivators in the UFC's drive for more talent. And with cards now coming at a weekly pace the opportunity for injury replacements has never been higher. Thus enters Sean Strickland, who is now slated to face Bubba McDaniel at UFC 171 on the back of a shoulder injury to Tor Troeng. UFC officials announced the change on Monday.
The 23 year old Strickland will enter the octagon with an unbeaten 13-0 record and after a two year reign as the KOTC middleweight champion. He trains out of Cquence Jiu Jitsu, where he is the most notable fighter. He's been a strong finisher to this point in his career with 7 of his 13 wins by KO/TKO and another three by submission. The level of competition on his record has been decent, if not outstanding. Wins over Brandon Hunt, Bill Albrecht, Josh Bryant, and Yusuke Sakashita are all solid.
Watching Strickland fight, his earlier incarnations were somewhat cautious on the feet, looking to use strikes more to open up takedown opportunities rather than generate meaningful offense. He throws kicks well, with speed and power but has been known to keep his punches as more of a probing tool. Once the fight is on the ground however, Strickland displays brutal ground and pound and has several TKO victories from the mount. Unfortunately there's not a lot of good footage from Strickland's recent fights, so he could be a much different man when he steps in to the UFC. If not it will be interesting to see how he matches up with Bubba McDaniel who is probably a bit faster on his feet and slicker on the ground, but may be less powerful than Strickland overall.
But wait, there's more. Strickland wasn't the only UFC signing announced recently. Groundandpound.de reports that the UFC has signed German lightweight fighter Nick Hein to a six fight contract. The 29 year old Hein is a black belt in Judo with a wealth of tournament experience. He is a former welterweight, having just recently made the drop to lightweight in his last fight. Seeing pictures of him, it's hard to think of where he found the weight to cut, but at 5' 8" lightweight is probably a better long term home if he can make 155 comfortably. Hein will enter the UFC with a 10-1 (1 NC) record training out of Club de Leao. His record comes over decent regional competition with wins over Tamirlan Dadaev and Musa Jangubaev being his most notable to date.
Watching Hein fight, his judo background is obvious. He hits a variety of sweeps, trips, throws, and drags from body lock positions. Some of that has been hindered in his past fights by ring ropes, but that's not a problem he should have in the UFC. Outside of his Judo, Hein is something of a fireplug. His stocky frame gives him a low center of gravity and makes him hard to take down, and his scrambling ability makes him hard to keep down once he's on the ground. He has fast hands that could probably be more effective and powerful while standing. His footwork has been improving to that end, but he's still not a comfortable striker and doesn't have much of a kicking game. Eventually Hein is something of a fighter in development. He has a ton of raw tools and is a great athlete, but hasn't developed much in the way of finishing technique. If he can sand off the rough edges, he could be a very, very good fighter.
To get us better acquainted, here's Hein's most recent fight against Michael Erdinc: