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Israel Adesanya claims UFC didn’t want ‘idiot’ Sean Strickland ‘embarrassing the company’ in Australia - ‘He should thank me’

UFC’s Middleweight champion revealed the reason the promotion was so reluctant to put Sean Strickland in UFC 293’s headline spot.

UFC 293, which takes place inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, is right around the corner on Sept. 9, 2023, and it finally has a main event signed and secured with Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, taking on Sean Strickland.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, though.

Indeed, there was nearly a one-month delay between the time Adesanya dubbed Strickland the next in line and UFC made the fight official. According to Adesanya, it was only his insistence that landed Strickland the booking. The reason, according to “The Last Stylebender,” wasn’t Strickland’s record or ranking, but his tendency to be an “idiot” in front of the media.

In fact, it took “a lot” of convincing for UFC brass to sign Izzy’s pick.

“He’s an idiot, and you know, UFC don’t want him embarrassing the company,” Adesanya said during a press scrum (via It’s Time For Sports). “But yeah, that’s all I’ll say about that so he should thank me. He should really thank me for making him get the fight. I pushed for it, [my coach Eugene Bareman] knows what happened behind the scenes. And I pushed for it and I’m glad the UFC trusted me to listen to me.”

Told you so?

Nevertheless, Australia is a bit of a strange market for UFC. It’s growing by leaps and bounds with several popular fighters at the top of the sport. But, you still see regular articles in newspapers calling the sport barbaric. Alexander Volkanovski’s hometown mayor recently denied “The Great” a key to the city because he’s disgusted with mixed martial arts (MMA).

Therefore, UFC probably doesn’t want the politically incorrect Strickland generating any negative narratives about the sport on a major pay-per-view (PPV) card. That accounts for the delay.

So, what about Adesanya’s reasoning for calling out Strickland?

“I pushed for him to get the fight because he was the next logical guy,” he said. “I’ve beat all the Top 5, some of them twice. So, you can’t punish us for being great. So yeah, I pushed for him to get the fight. He’s an idiot. I can’t say too much but he’s an idiot. He’s an idiot, so he’ll just have to behave himself and actually just show up and fight.”

City Kickboxing head coach, Eugene Bareman, explained how it was important to them that an Australian card have a regional headliner.

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“The name was a little bit irrelevant to us,” Bareman said. “But, Izzy did some work behind the scenes to make sure he got Strickland and to make sure our region got a relevant main event, which was a Kiwi or an Australian champion. There’s only two. There’s Volk [Alexander Volkanovski] who unfortunately is a bit injured. So, we did our part to make it happen and we’re grateful that our region, our neighborhood, has a relevant main event.

“Right from the start we put all our concentration and effort into the date and less focus on the opponent,” Bareman continued. “Now we have the opponent in front of us. We sign on the dotted line and we show up. That’s what we’ve done for our entire UFC career, not just with Izzy but with all fighters. No one from this team has chosen or refused to fight like many other teams and a lot of other young fighters in the UFC. And that’s why we’re looked upon favorably by the matchmakers and the powers that be. Because there’s no mucking around.”

UFC 293 also features Tai Tuivasa vs. Alexander Volkov, Kai Kara-France vs. Manel Kape and Carlos Ulberg vs. Jung Da-un amongst other local flavor.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 293 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPNN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 293: “Adesanya vs. Strickalnd” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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