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UFC Vegas 12’s Sean Strickland recounts career-threatening motorcycle accident ahead of Octagon return

UFC Fight Night: McGee v Strickland Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Sean Strickland will compete for the first time in over two years tomorrow night (Sat., Oct. 31, 2020) at UFC Vegas 12 as he returns from a horrific motorcycle accident back in 2018.

“I left some of my kneecap on the road,” said Strickland in a recent interview with MMA Fighting.

Strickland, who meets Jack Marshman on UFC Vegas 12’s “Prelims” undercard, didn’t know if he’d ever compete inside of the Octagon again. After getting hit by a van going 45 miles per hour on his way back from practice the North Carolina native suffered a severely injured knee. Strickland was riding his motorcycle and had little protection against the hit when the accident occurred.

Strickland ended up blacking out for a few hours before waking up in a hospital bed with doctors and authorities standing over him. It was a horror scene for the UFC fighter who had just left a successful training session only to have his career hanging in the balance.

Luckily, doctors were able to fix Strickland’s knee and put him on the road to recovery.

“I had a doctor coming up to me saying ‘you’re going to surgery’ and at that moment I started crying a little bit,” Strickland recalled. “I don’t know if it’s just the life long battle with depression that fighters have but I just remember waking up like ‘f—k, I hope I can fight again.’

“As far as the actual accident, that wasn’t so traumatic but just waking up to ‘you’re going into knee surgery.’ That was the thing that really stuck me hard. The only thing I’ve ever done in life was be a loser and be an MMA fighter. That hit me hard.”

Evident by the photos shared through Strickland’s social media in the aftermath of the accident, his knee injury was nothing to dismiss. Strickland had torn his patella tendon and his knee cap was hanging on by a thread.

“My patella tendon tore so my knee cap was laying out, pretty much dangling out of my f—king skin,” Strickland said. “After that, they went and they sewed my patella tendon back in my knee cap.

“Then I got an MRI like three months later just to see how everything was and I still have a pretty big quadricep tear. But that would have put me out for another year and a half so I just said f—k it, I’ll just deal with it.”

The road to recovery was always going to be a long one for Strickland as he needed to re-strengthen his knee, but most doctors actually advised him to never fight again. It wasn’t something the aspiring welterweight contender was willing to accept, especially as he received continued support from UFC.

“Let me just tell you this — every doctor I talked to said I shouldn’t fight again,” Strickland said. “The only ones that were really supportive of me coming back to the gym and coming back to fight were all the people at the UFC Performance Institute.

“They were like a bright light to me. I’d go there and I couldn’t even walk up the stairs and they’d say ‘you’ll be back, you’ll be all right.’ It sucked.”

Luckily, Strickland was able to make a full recovery and resume his promising MMA career. It may have taken a little while to facilitate his return, but the time has come for Strickland to make his push towards the top.

“I started training at 15. I dropped out of school at 17 to be a fighter. This is literally the only thing I f**king know,” Strickland said. “To me it just feels like something I’m supposed to be doing. I feel good.

“I’m grateful that I can still do it. I’m grateful to the UFC to let me get back in there after two years off. It feels good. I’m not having to say welcome to Walmart, paper or plastic.”

Strickland, who is coming off a TKO win over Nordine Taleb back in October 2018, is currently 7-3 inside of the Octagon. Outside of his surprise TKO loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Strickland’s only other career defeats have come against Kamaru Usman and Santiago Ponzinibbio, both via decision. Not too shabby for the former King of the Cage middleweight champion.

If Strickland is able to return in style and end Marshman at UFC Vegas 12 he may end up getting his shot at the top 15 sometime in 2021. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 12 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.

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