Like Jotko, Strickland enters this weekend’s contest on a three-fight winning streak, but a lot changed for the now 30-year-old middleweight.
Shortly after his October 2018 win over Nordine Taleb, Strickland was in a gnarly motorcycle accident that left him with numerous injuries and sidelined him for more than two years. Last fall, he returned to the Octagon and the middleweight division, registering impressive victories over Jack Marshman and Brendan Allen two weeks apart to remain unbeaten in the 185-pound weight class and push his overall record to 22-3.
“I expect it will be the toughest fight in my career — Sean is a very tough guy, very tall, very good technical boxing, and he has good cardio and he’s never tired,” offered Jotko. “This is a new thing for me because always in my fights, I was never tired and people that were fighting me would be getting slower and I would win the fight.
“We’ll see what happens this time because now it’s two guys with very good conditioning, very good technique, and I’m excited for this matchup.”
In addition to the challenges Strickland brings to the table, Jotko is also feeling energized by the recent successes of his compatriots, light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and lightweight Mateusz Gamrot, as well as former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Watch Saturday With Your ESPN+ Subscription
“This is eight years in the UFC for me and we can see the Polish power: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jan Blachowicz, last month, Mateusz Gamrot, and now it’s my time — Krzysztof Jotko,” began the confident middleweight, who trains alongside Gamrot and Jedrzejczyk at American Top Team. “The Polish people, we have big confidence. I can see Jan grow his confidence and he is a champion. The same with Mateusz Gamrot — he came to UFC, lost his first fight, but then wins a big fight by knockout.
“If Mateusz Gamrot, a wrestler guy, can knock out people, then I should be able to knock out people easily because I am a striker,” he added with a laugh, though he’s only half-joking.
After another longer than expected layoff, Jotko has been champing at the bit to get back into the Octagon and resume his quest to reclaim a spot in the rankings and work his way into title contention, beginning this weekend, when he finally gets to cross “Fight in Las Vegas” off his professional bucket list.