Things didn’t go as planned for Israel Adesanya on Saturday night in his second home of Australia at UFC 293.
In the main event at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, Sean Strickland pulled off the biggest upset in UFC middleweight history, and one of the largest in the history of the promotion.
Strickland shook off +450 odds to dethrone Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46×3), and there was no controversy.
Strickland dropped Adesanya in the first round with a right hand. After the right hand momentarily floored Adesanya, Strickland pummeled him with more shots before the stunned future Hall-of-Famer was able to escape the onslaught.
Quite honestly, the referee could have called an end to the bout during the barrage, but he gave Adesanya the benefit of the doubt and allowed him to continue.
Even with the second chance, Adesanya couldn’t find an answer for Strickland’s stripped-down, but brilliant gameplan. The challenger utilized his Philly Shell approach and leaned heavily on well-timed 1-2 punch combinations to find their mark. He rode this strategy for five rounds and to a world title.
Adesanya might have taken the second round, but Strickland walked him down for the entirety of the fight and the punches he landed led to noticeable swelling and a bloody nose for his opponent.
According to UFC Stats, Strickland out-landed Adesanya 101 to 73 while also putting on a defensive clinic against one of the greatest strikers the sport has ever seen. Adesanya only landed 34% of his strikes on Strickland while the latter connected on 53%. There were no takedown attempts in the fight. Strickland did it all on the feet, which is perhaps the most shocking aspect of his upset win.
While Strickland overcame massive odds to dethrone Adesanya, Holly Holm still holds the distinction of pulling off the biggest upset in UFC history. When Holm stopped Ronda Rousey in 2015, she was a +1200 underdog.
Still, Strickland’s performance will go down in history as one of the most memorable. Former two-division champion Conor McGregor offered this analysis of the UFC 293 main event:
UFC President Dana White captured Strickland’s crowning moment and Adesanya’s sportsmanship:
Here is a look at the official scorecards:
Adesanya looked completely unprepared for Strickland’s attack and his defensive approach. Strickland kept Adesanya on his heels the entire fight, never seemingly providing him with the targets the latter is usually able to reveal in his opponents.
Many thought this fight would be a stepping stone for Adesanya before he stepped into a grudge match with Dricus Du Plessis. While an official word on next steps wasn’t available at the time of publishing, it would seem Adesanya might be in line for a rematch with Strickland–just as he was granted an immediate second shot at Alex Pereira after losing to him initially at UFC 281.
Unless Adesanya wants more time off or has an injury to rehab, a rematch with Strickland seems like the most logical next fight for both men.
Here is a look at all of the results from UFC 293 in Australia.
Sean Strickland def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46×3)
Alexander Volkov def. Tai Tuivasa via second-round submission (Ezekiel Choke)
Manel Kape def. Felipe dos Santos via UD (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Justin Tafa def. Austen Lane via first-round TKO (1:22)
Tyson Pedro def. Anton Turkalj via first-round KO (2:12)
- Carlos Ulberg def. Da Un Jung via third-round submission (Rear-Naked Choke) (R3, 4:49)
- Chepe Mariscal def. Jack Jenkins via second-round TKO (3:19) (elbow injury)
- Jamie Mullarkey def. John Makdessi via UD (29-28 x3)
- Nasrat Haqparast def. Landon Quinones via UD (30-27 x3)
- Charlie Radtke def. Blood Diamond via UD (29-27 x3)
- Gabriel Miranda def. Shane Young via first-round submission (Rear-Naked Choke) – Round 1, 0:59
- Kevin Jousset def. Kiefer Crosbie via first-round submission (Rear-Naked Choke) – Round 1, 4:49