Content warning: This article mentions domestic violence and physical abuse.
It can be difficult to look at a muscular, imposing fighter like Sean Strickland and recognize that he was once a kid, just like anyone else. The UFC fighter has recently opened up about his childhood, and about a particular trauma from his past that continues to shape who he is today.
Sean decided to get vulnerable after a pre-fight press conference with his upcoming opponent Dricus du Plessis in which Dricus hurled comments at Sean that Sean thought crossed a line, including some about his father. Now, Sean has decided to set the record straight about what happened to him as a child.
What happened to Sean Strickland as a kid?
In an interview on Theo Von's podcast, Sean explained that he grew up in a home where his father was abusive.
“There’s some things that are off limits. You don’t really talk about a man’s wife, you don’t talk about a man’s kids, and you don’t talk about a kid being abused. These things are all off limits,” Sean explained during the interview.
“I remember I used to always sleep in my mom’s room because I thought my dad was going to kill my mom,” Sean added as he recounted one specific incident where he had to call the police on his father to have him arrested.
Sean was also open about the way growing up in this environment had shaped who he became. “I would say that’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said, of how living with the threat of constant violence had impacted his own mental health.
Sean also said that there was a moment during the press conference that didn't make it to air in which Dricus's words had such a profound affect on him that he bit him.
“I s--t you not," he said. "Whenever he went into me, I remember at that moment, you see my head goes up towards him, I started thinking how can hurt this man? I’m going take a f--king chunk out of him."
Sean said that he often uses humor as a coping mechanism to deal with these difficult topics. “I joke about all this s--t, as we’re laughing, you’ve got to joke about it. If you don’t, how do you process that kind of abuse?”
Sean's difficult experience clearly still has a profound affect on the person he is today, and it's a line that he believes that his opponents shouldn't cross when they're doing their usual pre-fight trash talking. Things can get intensely personal in UFC, but even in that arena, there are some things too personal to discuss.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.