Sean Strickland Defeats Paulo Costa at UFC 302

Published On: 6/3/2024

Monster Energy’s Sean Strickland Defeats Paulo Costa at UFC 302 in New Jersey 33-Year-Old Middleweight Fighter from California Earns Split Decision Victory in Co-Main Event Fight

What a battle! Monster Energy congratulates MMA athlete Sean Strickland on defeating Paulo Costa at UFC 302 in Newark. In the night’s Co-Main Event fight contested in the UFC’s middleweight division, the 33-year-old from Riverside, California, earned a split decision victory after battling his Brazilian opponent for five rounds.

 UFC 302: Makhachev vs. Poirier was contested in front of a capacity crowd of 17,834 spectators at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Celebrity guests inside the sold-out venue included actors, musicians, current and future UFC Hall of Famers, as well as former U.S. President Donald Trump. 

With five fights on the Main Card, the championship event was broadcast live on ESPN pay-per-view.

Monster Energy’s Strickland (29-6) came to Newark looking to recover from a split-decision loss against Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297 in January 2024, when he lost the title of UFC Middleweight Champion. Previously, Strickland had claimed the 185-pound division belt at UFC 293 in Australia in 2023, and now wants his title back!

 Strickland’s opponent was former UFC Middleweight Championship contender Paulo Costa (14-4) from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. After suffering a loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 298 in February, Costa also wanted to get back in the winner’s circle to earn another shot at the title. 

From the opening bell, the UFC 302 co-main event unfolded with Strickland bringing the pressure – and never slowing his pace – over the course of five rounds. Walking his opponent down across the Octagon, Strickland remained in close pursuit as Costa found himself defending on the back foot.

While Round 1 saw Costa hurting Strickland’s lead leg with tactical calf kicks, the former champ found openings for precise body kicks while depleting the Brazilian’s battery. Strickland took the upper hand in the second round by sending Costa to the canvas with a stiff jab.

From there, the American maintained his pursuit as Costa grasped for ways to switch gears out of retreat mode. The Brazilian briefly stood his ground in Round 4 when he landed several significant strikes, but Strickland resumed the pressure in signature style, sniping tactical shots from an impenetrable defensive shell.

The final moments of the fight escalated after Strickland knocked Costa down with a head kick, followed by a barrage of strikes and body kicks all the way to the final bell. When all was said and done, the judges named Strickland the winner by split decision (46-49, 50-45, 49-46). Not without controversy: the ‘split’ decision was questioned on social media – audiences seeing Strickland as the clear winner – and blasted by UFC President Dana White in post-fight press talks.

“It was a boring fight, sorry guys,” said Monster Energy’s Strickland after the fight, adding: “That Brazilian goes backward fast. I’m not known for being athletic.”

Immediately after the fight, Strickland called for a rematch against current UFC Middleweight Champion Dricus du Plessis. “I mean, obviously, I want the title fight, but, at the end of the day, I’m a fighter. I’m a prize fighter. So, you give me money, I fight, but that's what I want. That needs to happen,” said Strickland. Stay tuned for more now that Strickland is back in the victory column!

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