To: Sean Strickland, From: CME Consulting Services LLC, Re: Belal Muhammad beef

Sean Strickland

Hey Sean, thanks for reaching out. We received your CME Consulting Services request, along with your $40 via Venmo. We’ve been looking into this situation between you and Belal Muhammad and we just had a few questions before we offer our advice on next steps.

First, the facts. From what we can tell, it seems this all started when Luke Rockhold pulled out of his scheduled fight with you and Mr. Muhammad offered to step in, correct? It seems he also made things personal right away, calling you a “piece of trash” and taking issue with past comments you may have made regarding Palestine, is that accurate? (Side note: As a general rule, CME Consulting Services LLC strongly discourages clients from offering ANY opinions on decades-long conflicts that they are not unimpeachable experts on. We know you didn’t ask, but consider this a free add-on to the services you’ve already paid for.)

Furthermore, your initial response to Mr. Muhammad appears to be have been fairly innocuous, dismissing him as a non-factor from a different division, and one who will not help you move closer to a middleweight title shot. You did add that you had previously offered to spar with him because it was “a good excuse” to hurt him, which, we must point out, is maybe not the best message to send to current and future sparring partners.

But things seem to have taken a turn recently, from what we can tell, and this video you posted appears to be the culprit. Just for the sake of getting the full picture, let’s go ahead and lay out the text here so we can examine your choice of words together:

“Muhammad, you need to know something man. The UFC will never let us fight unless I get fucked up or if you come to middleweight and get ranked. And honestly man, I will give you an offer because I fucking like you dude. I think you’re fucking funny. I laugh at your Instagram posts. It’s fucking hilarious. But I want to make you an offer. We can go – you’re going to be in Vegas next week – me and you, we can meet up in the desert, dude, and we can just do some weird shit together, dude. Because it’s so wild to me, like, this is something that I’ve always fantasized about, you know? And you’re like a gazelle that wants to be a lion, and you’re accepting what I want to do to you. And like, dude, I want to do some weird shit to you, man. Oh man, it’s so exciting that you’re just so ok with doing it. Like there’s some things I’ve fantasized about for a long time, and I feel like you’re going to let me do it to you.”

So, yeah, a lot to unpack there. First, this is why we strongly encourage clients to contact us before posting on the internet. But also, and we’re not sure how to put this delicately, it seems like you’ve chosen to frame this conflict between yourself and another professional fighter in a strangely sexual context? Like, very sexual? And very strange? We realize that nothing here explicitly references sexual acts. But the general tone, Sean. The tone is undeniably sexual in nature. Surely you see that, right?

But then, as if to remove any doubt, you also posted this image, in which you clearly label both yourself and Mr. Muhammad in what appears to be a crude depiction of two (clothed??) individuals engaging in (doggystyle) sexual congress.

Sean, we have concerns about this strategy. Unless we’re misreading the situation entirely, it appears as though you’re using sex as a stand-in for violence here. The two seem, in fact, completely interchangeable for you. That’s troubling, Sean, and not just from a public relations and communications standpoint.

It suggests to people that you see sex – the physical expression of love and affection between two consenting adults – and extreme physical violence in a recreational sporting context as essentially one and the same? In fact, an attentive observer might come away from these posts wondering if this might be how you, as a person, approach sex in your personal life. We’re not sure you really want to invite those kinds of questions, whatever the answers may be.

While we’re on the subject, Sean, it seems that in general lately you’ve chosen to go with what we might call a “sadistic and potentially genuinely homicidal maniac” approach to self-promotion. That’s fine. It’s a choice. We wouldn’t exactly call it sponsor-friendly, but this is professional fighting and there will always be a subset of fans who naturally gravitate toward a certain gleeful brand of human cruelty. You are in a good position to corner that market.

But one concern we have is that if, god forbid, you were to ever find yourself accused of a violent crime up to and including homicide, these posts would not paint you in a positive light for any prospective jury. They might even be quite damning, Sean. Just based on what we know about you through social media and post-fight interviews, we’re halfway ready to vote for your conviction on any and all unsolved murders within 200 miles of your location.

But back to the specific situation with Mr. Muhammad. Had you engaged our services earlier, we would have advised you to publicly voice support for the fight, inviting Mr. Muhammad to move up to middleweight and come get that smoke, as it were. We believe you are correct in your assertion that the UFC would likely not book such a fight, but a) that doesn’t mean you can’t still get credit for accepting it, and b) if the UFC did make the fight, it would come with serious grudge match potential that would put you in the spotlight once again. Also, c) don’t you think you’d probably win that fight against a guy coming up from welterweight? And wins are wins, Sean. It doesn’t have to always make sense.

Sadly, this approach seems closed to you now, given your very public support for a bizarre desert meeting instead. In other circumstances we might suggest that a client claim to have been hacked, but the very clear and unambiguous video of you addressing Mr. Muhammad by name and requesting that he let you do “some weird shit” that you have long “fantasized” about makes that difficult and maybe even impossible here.

In light of all that, we think the best possible next move for you is to become best friends with Mr. Muhammad. Possibly even roommates. Ideally, you could later claim that these exchanges were all in good fun, and it was your shared love of acting up on social media that brought you together and helped each of you find the comfort of friendship in the cutthroat world of mixed-rules fighting.

Do we expect this to be easy? We do not. In the event that Mr. Muhammad remains unwilling to become your friend, we would advise that you claim to be his friend nonetheless. In fact, this might even be preferable. While he continues to call you out for a fight, you respond by telling people how hilarious he is, how much you appreciate his friendship, how he honestly helped you through some really difficult times and you’re extremely grateful for him.

Perhaps a badly photoshopped image showing the two of you hanging out together would help. The occasional tweet in which you shoutout “my brother Belal, who always picks up when I call and knows just what to say when I’m feeling blue.” You might even consider an affectionate nickname. Our suggestion is something along the line of “B-Mac,” but feel free to come up with your own.

Eventually, we believe this strategy will either win both Mr. Muhammad and the fans over, or at least leave them all feeling confused and disquieted. As a bonus, you get to appear to have actual friends in MMA, rather than an assortment of sparring partners who all find you troubling and off-putting.

Hopefully this helps. If you have any more questions, or run into any issues with the implementation of this strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact us again (with the inclusion of an additional $40 via Venmo).


CME Consulting Services LLC

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