Johnny Eblen recounts sparring UFC champ Sean Strickland, not surprised he ‘beat the brakes off’ Israel Adesanya

Johnny Eblen expected UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland to have success.

Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) dropped Israel Adesanya en route to a unanimous decision win to claim the title at UFC 293. He makes his first title defense against Dricus Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 4-0 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 297 main event at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+)..

Having sparred Strickland on several occasions, undefeated Bellator middleweight champion Eblen says he’s a tricky puzzle to solve.

“I kind of saw it happening because I’ve sparred with Sean,” Eblen said on MMA on SiriusXM. “The first time I sparred with him, I was like, ‘What the f*ck is this?’ Like, this is different. This guy is hard to hit. I can’t get his timing. He’s awkward. He can hit me. The first time you spar Sean, it’s like you’re trying to figure him out and it takes a while. I wasn’t surprised when Adesanya was having trouble with him, especially when Sean dropped him.

“I was like, ‘Dude, if Sean can just keep this up, he’s going to win this fight,’ and he ended up doing it. Honestly, this Dricus fight made the most sense unless Adesanya wanted to come back for a rematch right away, but it just didn’t make sense because Sean just beat the brakes off of him. I kind of foresaw this happening. Maybe I’m one of the few guys that foresaw it because I’ve trained with him and I knew how good Sean was but yeah dude, I’m just happy for the guy.”

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie