UFC 293 went down last night (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, featuring a Middleweight title fight between division champion, Israel Adesanya, and Sean Strickland, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, taking home a unanimous decision after dominating “The Last Stylebender” for 25 minutes (see it again here). In the co-main event, Alexander Volkov submitted Tai Tuivasa with a rare Ezekiel choke in round two (replay here).
Biggest Winner: Sean Strickland
Strickland came into the fight a massive underdog ... and rightfully so. That’s because Adesanya has been dominating the Middleweight division for some time now, and Strickland was a late replacement after Dricus Du Plessis — who had this to say after the fight — bowed out of the title fight. But, the brazen 185-pound contender turned the division on its head after scoring a massive upset over “The Last Stylebender,” surprisingly out-classing him for 25 minutes in the striking department (yes, seriously), to earn a unanimous decision win. Strickland actually dropped the now-former champion in the opening round and was a few seconds away from a potential finish. Nevertheless, “Tarzan” kept chugging along, kept pushing forward, never went for a takedown and took it to Adesanya for the entire fight, capturing his first-ever world title in the process. It was an absolute all-time performance from the new champion at 185 pounds.
Runner Up: Alexander Volkov
“Drago” has found his groove again and he isn’t ready to slow down. Since 2018, the Russian big man had been unable to earn a three-fight win streak inside the Octagon since starting his UFC career at 4-0, but after defeating Tai Tuivasa via a rare Ezekiel choke, “Drago” has now won three straight and is making a move up the rankings and could crack the Top 5 come next week after his latest victory. In doing so, he could start getting mentioned as a potential title contender, as he only really has Ciryl Gane, Tom Aspinall and Serghei Pavlovich in better position at the moment.
Biggest Loser: Israel Adesanya
The only thing I have to ask is, “What was that?” I am NOT taking anything away from Strickland, he put on a masterful performance to win the belt and shocked the combat world. But, Adesanya looked absolutely lost in there last night. His defense was lacking and he simply couldn’t pop off any offense. Credit to Strickland, he stifled “The Last Stylebender” for 25 minutes, kept the pressure on and took it to him from the opening bell. Perhaps Adesanya overlooked “Tarzan” and didn’t take him serious enough. If that was the case, that’s the result. Now, Adesanya will have to go back to the drawing board after suffering just his third defeat in the sport and think about what his next move will be, though something tells me we won’t be seeing “The Last Stylebender” for a bit.
Runner Up: Anton Turkalj
We are going with two this week because coming into the event, Turkalj earned our spot for the fighter who needed a win the most after losing his first two fights inside the Octagon. Unfortunately for “The Pleasure Man,” things went from bad to worse after he was knocked out by long-time veteran, Tyson Pedro, in the first round. The loss was his third straight after coming into the promotion with a ton of promise early in his combat career, winning his Contender Series fight to earn a shot in the big leagues, as well as starting off his career 7-0 before then, all stoppages. But, since he has gone winless in his first three tries under the UFC banner, he could very well get his pink slip in the coming weeks.
For complete UFC 293 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.