After his win over Uriah Hall in August, Sean Strickland gave a post-fight statement that turned some heads. The 30-year-old middleweight fighter casually spoke about wanting to end someone’s life inside the UFC cage.
“If you like to f—ng hurt people, you’re in the right sport, man,” he told reporters during the post-fight scrum. “Like, I would love nothing more than to kill somebody in the ring.
“Nothing more. It would make me super happy. I would own that shit, too. I don’t know if that made me liable, I might have to say ‘I’m sorry’ if the cops came. But I would own that shit.”
As it turns out, Strickland wasn’t saying things in jest. In his recent appearance on The MMA Hour, he opened up about having actual murderous fantasies. And if it wasn’t for his MMA training, Strickland says he would’ve acted on them.
“I would walk down the street with a knife or like a rock, hoping to kill somebody. And when I started training, I realized, ‘Man, you’re just f—ng angry,’” he told Ariel Helwani.
“There’s just something in me that I just knew that if I could just kill a human being, it would make me feel good, short time. But it’s one of those things where I think more people think like that, and I’m just the one that says it.
“I always say that the difference between me and other people. Like, you can watch Dexter, you can watch The Punisher, and you can the movies and you think about killing. But I was on a path to where I was gonna act it out. Like, I was fantasizing it, so I had my mom take me to training for the first time.
“Once you start fantasizing enough about it, you start putting yourself in situations to act out the fantasy. And training allowed me an outlet for the fantasy to stop. I would train, I’d fight, I would train, I’d fight. But if it wasn’t for that, I fantasize about it all the time.”
Strickland candidly spoke about going through a “Neo-Nazi, white supremacist phase” and getting kicked out of school for a “hate crime.”
“I was so angry.” Strickland said about being racist. “And I had a lot of f—ked up influences in my life, that it felt so good to hate something, you know?
“My grandfather was like this big big piece of shit. Like when you’re a kid though, you don’t see that, you hero worship,” he said. “He just kind of liked filled your head with crazy shit. You’re in seventh grade spouting off like Nazis... you don’t even know what that means, but you hear it.
“He was a massive figure that wasn’t my dad. That identity consumed me. I was drawing swastikas on my arm walking around in school. Like, I didn’t know what the f—k that was,” he said.
“My grandfather died, but later I kind of resent him for it. You know people often think like the world is racist? Like it’s not. When you’re racist, you don’t get ahead in life. You’re f—ked, man. You’re outcasted, you’re looked at like a f—king weirdo,” he said. “There’s no privilege from being racist, so I resented him a big majority of my life for filling my head with that.”
Strickland claims he grew out of that after he started training. He says he realized he didn’t actually hate anybody and started dating “a lot of ethnic women” because he wanted to “move so far past” his racist ways.
The root of all his issues, he says, could be his abusive upbringing, which he feels changed his brain “biologically.”
“I remember hugging my mom’s leg in the kitchen, like pre-elementary school. My dad all f—ng drunk and telling my f—ng mom like, ‘I’m gonna f—ng cut you up in little pieces, bury you in the backyard in a bottle of acid,’” he recalled.
“So you grow up and you hear that shit day in and day out from my earliest memory. Like, it starts shifting the way your brain…
“Whenever you experience things like that day in and day out, your brain, it biologically f—ng changes. My brain was made in such a way to survive that encounter, that whenever it came down to transitioning to the normal world and fitting in, my brain wasn’t built for that.
“It wasn’t built for the modern world. It was built for the insanity that I grew up in, and it was so hard for me once I got older, like 14, to transition from thinking about my mom dying every night to, ‘Alright, it’s time to be a normal person. Go assimilate. Go have a good time, go to a bar.’”
Strickland admits that he “likes” having such dark thoughts. He claims he plans to seek help once his fighting career is over, but for now, he embraces it as part of his whole being.
“I like it. I like when I leave my house, the potential thought of ‘maybe I can kill someone,’” he casually said. “After I’m done with MMA, I probably will work on rewiring my brain and maybe finding more value for human life. Maybe try to connect more with people. But now, I f—ng like it. I f—ng enjoy it, you know?”
Strickland was supposed to take on former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 268 on November 6th, but the latter had to pull out due to a back injury. The UFC has yet to confirm whether or not he will remain on the card.