In his first 11 fights, Strickland is undefeated with finishes in all but two of his bouts, including his most recent first-round knockout title defense over veteran Bill Albrecht at KOTC: Restitution on Feb. 7.
“I was kind of expecting a little bit more, but that’s what I do every fight, I expect it to go the distance and if it doesn’t, I’m unhappy with it,” said Strickland.
“I’m trying to evolve my stand-up and I was trying to keep it standing, but the takedown was right there. After I hit him with that right, he had that look of ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home,’ so that’s when I shot the double-leg (and got the finish).”
Entering his fifth year of fighting, Strickland is already a tough opponent for anyone, but as he’s grown he’s learned to open up even more, making for an even more difficult fight going forward.
“The more I’m getting into it, the more I’m learning to not be afraid to go out on a limb,” he said. “If you’re afraid to go out and lose, you won’t perform.
“Take every fight living in the moment and enjoy it, because you never know, in five years or the next month something could happen and you won’t be fighting. You shouldn’t worry about losing.”
While it’s customary for challengers to seek out the champion, Strickland is the one gunning for a challenger he defeated via close split-decision last year for his next title fight.
“Right now, I’m just focused on fighting Josh Bryant and redeeming myself,” said Strickland. “I’ve actually never looked forward to a fight so much more.
“There’s a lot of guys who I’m very respectful of, and I like Josh, but I just want to shut him up. I want to hit him on the face and walk away and say if he wants another rematch, it’s going to happen the same way each time. I want to shut him up, shut everyone else up, and dominate every round.”
Beyond a rematch with Bryant, Strickland told MMAWeekly.com that he’s going to take his time moving forward in his career because when he does move forward, he wants it to be when he’s fully ready for it.
“When I perform in the cage the same way I do in the gym, then I’ll say it’s time to step up,” he said. “Until I can show that in cage, I don’t feel I’m ready.
“If I go to the UFC or wherever, I don’t want to just win a fight, lose a fight. If I go there, I want to be a legitimate contender. If I’m not a legitimate contender then there’s no point in going. I don’t want to be one of those guys you wonder how in the hell they got there and how they have no business being there to fight. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to be a contender.”