The jab was the thing for Sean Strickland in his FS1 featured prelim bout against Alex Garcia, Sunday night in Pittsburgh. The 24-year-old landed his left jab consistently to the head in rounds two and three, and the lead strike is what ultimately setup his knockout win with just seconds left in the fight.
Early in the first round, Strickland stormed Garcia to gain top position on the ground. The powerful Dominican was put on his heels and butt and soon appeared to be on his way out of the fight as Strickland piled on the ground strikes from above.
Suddenly, however, Garcia was able to reverse positions and spent the rest of the round striking from on top, inside Strickland’s guard. After the first round’s horn sounded, Garcia smiled, and then offered Strickland a high-five.
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In the second round, Garcia poured it on with big punches landed. For his part, Strickland landed nice roundhouse kicks to the leg and straight punches — mostly his left jab to the head.
With just under a minute left in the second, Garcia scored a takedown.
Garcia got to work with his grappling right away in the final round. He scored a takedown within about the first minute of the third.
Afterwards, one of his cornermen shouted out to him, in Spanish, "This is when you win the fight, dammit!"
Instead, Strickland pushed off with his feet and legs on the hips of Garcia, and stood back up with the space he’d just created. From there, Strickland got his jab pumping, once more.
Strickland defended another takedown attempt from Garcia with a minute and a half, left. He continued to land his jab to the face, and bloodied his nose.
Garcia stalked Strickland but continued to be peppered with shots. With under a minute left, Garcia shot in again and Strickland once more defended.
Once they returned to their feet, Strickland’s jab struck true again and it wobbled Garcia. Strickland seized the moment and marched Garcia down with punches, against the cage, finishing with a right cross that dropped Garcia.