In the main event of UFC 293, American fighter Sean Strickland pulled off a stunning victory against Nigerian-born New Zealander Israel Adesanya, securing the middleweight title via a unanimous decision. This historic event marked the return of the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Australia’s largest city after a six-year gap.
Strickland, with a record of 28 wins and 5 losses, caused controversy with his sexist and misogynistic remarks during the pre-fight news conference. Despite this, he won, with all three judges scoring the fight 49-46 in his favor.
Emotionally overwhelmed, Strickland expressed his disbelief and gratitude after the fight, acknowledging the sacrifices he’s made for MMA.
Expectations were high for Adesanya, who enjoyed all the support from the crowd at Qudos Bank Arena and aimed to defend the title he had won from Alex Pereira at UFC 281 in April.
However, Strickland’s counterattacking strategy was highly effective, as he consistently landed significant blows throughout the match, leaving Adesanya struggling to find openings to counterattack.
The fight began cautiously, with both fighters sizing each other up. Strickland delivered the first impactful strike with a clean, straight shot that knocked down Adesanya, securing the first round in his favor. Adesanya displayed more aggression in the second and third rounds, finding his range with kicks and right-hand shots. However, he continued to expose himself to Strickland’s counterattacks.
In the final rounds, Adesanya struggled to break through Strickland’s solid defense, allowing the American fighter to seize on the opportunity. Strickland unleashed a number of punches and kicks in the last minute, defending his victory and holding on to the middleweight title.
Reflecting on his performance, Strickland praised the Australian fans for their motivation and support, stating that their cheers fueled his determination. He admitted to moments of self-doubt but eventually succeeded.
Notably, Strickland stepped in as a late replacement for Adesanya’s initial opponent, South African fighter Dricus du Plessis, who was unavailable due to injury. Strickland earned his title shot with wins over Nassourdine Imavov and Abus Magomedov.