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Daniel Cormier praises UFC champ Sean Strickland’s mental toughness despite emotional outbursts

Daniel Cormier credits UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland for his ability to fight with composure.

Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) makes his first title defense against Dricus Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 4-0 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 297 headliner at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Strickland pulls no punches when he has the mic. But when Du Plessis brought up Strickland’s traumatic childhood during the UFC 2024 season press conference, Strickland jumped him while both men sat cageside for UFC 296 at T-Mobile Arena. Du Plessis called Strickland a hypocrite for breaking down in tears when reliving his childhood in a recent interview with Theo Von.

Despite Strickland appearing emotionally charged ahead of Saturday, going as far as threatening to stab Du Plessis if he brought up his past again, Cormier expects the champ to be level-headed when he fights the South African.

“I think that we, as a sport, overlook how mentally tough Sean Strickland is,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC.” “Because we talk about all of the things from the past, some of the absurd things that he might say, but the moment he gets into the octagon stays the course. He was talking about Israel Adesanya and dogs and all kinds of crazy stuff in the build to the last fight.

“They step into the octagon, and he looked like he had no issue with Izzy. He was there to do a job, and he was going to do it in the best way possible. I think that is what’s most overlooked about Sean Strickland is because regardless of the emotional outburst that he may have in the build to these fights when he’s in there, he fights with a game plan, and I don’t anticipate that’s going to change against Dricus Du Plessis.”

Strickland put up arguably his most refined performance when he tactically picked apart Israel Adesanya to claim the middleweight title at UFC 293 this past September.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie