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Sean Strickland’s coach reacts to Dricus Du Plessis loss at UFC 297: ‘We needed to win the optics battle’

Eric Nicksick thought Sean Strickland did enough to win at UFC 297.

Strickland (28-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) lost his middleweight title in a narrow split decision loss to Dricus Du Plessis (21-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) in Saturday’s main event at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Strickland’s head coach Nicksick was classy in his reaction to Du Plessis’ win. His initial thought is that his fighter won, but he plans on reassessing later.

“Congratulations to @dricusduplessis and his team. I never met a more classy opposing fighter during fight week, along with the skills to back it up. I’m happy for you, your team, and your country, you made them proud.

The fight was close. Close fights mean we needed to win the optics battle. Live, I had us winning 1,2, & 5, but all that matters are the 3 cage side. I’ll watch it again, to see where we/I can be better. Much love to everyone who supported us. On to the next!! #TTD ⚡︎

Strickland also thought he won the fight. He pointed to an alleged accidental clash of heads he said busted him open and impaired his vision. He was able to fight through it and won Round 5 on all three judges’ scorecards. In his post-fight news conference, Du Plessis could not remember a head clash, and no definitive clash was shown on any broadcast replays.

Du Plessis responded to Nicksick, showing him gratitude for his praise.

“Thank you so much for the kind words coach, you and the team are incredible and it was an honour to battle the best in the business. Thank you for the war and the true warrior like respect before and after the war.”

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie