Last night (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) traveled to Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia for UFC 293. Though there was a handful of Australian and New Zealand talents on the card, a fair percentage of the best-known names from Oceania were unavailable. On the bright side, Israel Adesanya scrounged up some undeserving opponent for a title defense, so at least the crowd had someone to support! Elsewhere on the card, knockout artists like Tai Tuivasa and Manel Kape guaranteed excitement.
Let’s take a look at UFC 293’s standout performances and techniques:
Strickland Pulls A Bisping!
Remember when Michael Bisping stayed in Anderson Silva’s face, stuck to the game plan, and scored a hard-fought decision win that shocked the fighting world? It wasn’t exactly the same, but Sean Strickland’s title win reminded me of that moment. It wasn’t exactly the same — Bisping feinted far more actively, for example — but the comparison between Bisping and his former training partner Strickland feels accurate nevertheless, because he did the seemingly impossible.
Strickland stayed true to himself here. He played to his strengths, worked his pressure, and deflected the vast majority of Adesanya’s punches that were aimed at his head. He timed his jab and cross well, if infrequently, catching Adesanya between his punches with snappy shots.
Strickland walked away from the 25-minute contest with a remarkably clean face.
The duality of Strickland was fully on display. On one hand, why the f—k didn’t he hit the body with his fists a single time?!? The opening was so there! His coaches were screaming for it ... again! Just like his last fight! Body shots would fit his style of attrition so well, particularly when his opponent is trapped along the fence.
He did make one absolutely key adjustment, however: Sean Strickland checked low kicks. He checked a lot of them, in fact, and withdrew away from many others. I’ve seen Strickland’s leg broken down by Brendan Allen, but Adesanya couldn’t do it? That’s impressive development.
Full credit to the new champion!
Heavyweights Throw Down In The Co-Main
Tai Tuivasa hardly landed a punch upstairs, but “Bam Bam” made it a fight anyway.
Right away, Alexander Volkov’s range was clearly a huge problem for the Australian. He’d flick his lead hand and lead leg simultaneously, landing at least one and keeping Tuivasa well off him. When Tuivasa tried to flurry forward, he would land nothing, usually eating a handful of hard counter punches in the process.
Full-sized Volkov hits hard, y’all. The punches quickly opened up Tuivasa’s face, and he obviously respected his foe’s power. However, Tuivasa still managed to work himself into the fight. He started running into his low kicks, blasting them with all his might. He took some hard counters in the process, but by the second, Volkov’s lead leg was fairly toast.
The veteran managed to hold it together though. He pressed harder, firing in combination and battering Tuivasa despite his own ferocious power. When Tuivasa tried to kick from his back foot, he was more vulnerable to getting toppled over, which happened twice in the second round. The second time, Volkov was able to quickly climb into mount.
That’s pretty much worst-case scenario for Tuivasa, trying to buck a 6’7”, 280-pound Volkov off him in the center of the cage. While he struggled, Volkov was pinballing his head off the canvas with ground strikes. Tuivasa defended an arm triangle choke, but he fell victim to the no-gi Ezekiel instead — the Aleksei Oleinik special!
A great win for “Drago.”
Kape Title Time?
For my money, Manel Kape is the most interesting contender at 125 lbs. right now. He was supposed to fight Kai Kara-France, but concussion issues canned that bout and put Kape in the cage with a shockingly game Felipe Dos Santos. True to his blond hair and Chute Boxe team, Dos Santos attacked with the venom of a young Charles Oliveira, but Kape’s powerful counter punching and clean boxing kept him firmly in the driver’s seat.
It was a really fun fight! It’s also Kape’s fourth straight victory, which is the biggest narrative to me here. Realistically, Kape deserved the nod over Matheus Nicolau too, meaning he could easily be on a five-fight tear with his only loss coming as a competitive decision with the current champion.
“Star Boy” is a knockout artist in his prime. Rebook the Kara-France fight if we must, but let’s make sure it’s a title eliminator for the Portuguese hitter.
Heavyweight Hook Kicks?
Austen Lane got smoked by Justin Tafa in about 90 seconds.
Lane does a lot of stuff. He moves a lot, throws frantic punches, and sticks weird kicks up the middle. At one point, he threw a hook kick? Personally, I would not put the hook kick high on my list of techniques for a Heavyweight prospect to prioritize mastering.
Now, the overhand? That’s a good one to learn. Tafa walked through all of Lane’s busy weirdness, clipped him with a counter or two, then sent him to the floor with ol’ faithful. A quick, lovely demonstration of efficiency, and an excellent couple weeks for the Tafa brothers!
Pedro Demolishes Turkalj
Yeah ... eating like six right hands in a row is a bad idea.
Anton Turkalj started out decently enough. He advanced well, cut off the cage, and landed some decent low kicks — a good start for the grappler. However, he has very little in the way of defense movement. As soon as Tyson Pedro started lining up his right hand, Turkalj was there to be hit.
Pedro stunned Turkalj bad with a right hand midway through the first. Turkalj stumbled away, walked into the pocket, and ate the same right hand. Once more, he stood his ground, stepped in, and got absolutely creamed by the right.
I understand that Turkalj wanted to be aggressive and pressure Pedro. That’s good strategy for the match up. but getting hurt that badly should have resulted in an adjustment. Circle for a moment, shoot for a desperation shot, pull guard — do anything but just stand there and get bombed on!
Is He THAT Guy?
Carlos Ulberg answered some questions opposite Da Woon Jung.
For two rounds, Ulberg’s technical finesse and control of range were on display. He danced around the Octagon, shifting directions smoothly and carving up Jung’s face with constant jabs. The South Korean advanced and landed some hard low kicks, but he was at least two steps behind Ulberg in the stand up.
The low kicks and general pressure of Jung made for an interesting third, however. Ulberg’s cardio hasn’t been tested since it failed him in the third round of his debut. Since then, it’s been nothing but quick stoppages. Jung tested him late here, pushing forward and landing good shots, as well as a takedown.
Ulberg responded really well! He popped back up and threw Jung himself, gaining top position on a foe exhausted from eating jabs for most of 14 minutes. Immediately, Ulberg was in a dominant position, hammering away from wrist control and forcing Jung to give up his back.
He scored the rear naked choke just seconds before the final bell — not a bad third round!
Jack Jenkins vs. Chepe Mariscal was shaping up to be a fun scrap.
Jenkins was the sharper, more accurate man early, but Mariscal was answering with the correct antidote: ugly fighting! After the first round, he continually pushed into the clinch, creating collisions and dirty boxing exchanges. Just as the situation was really heating up, Mariscal attempt a whizzer kick takedown, the type of throw we see multiple times per night.
As Jenkins hit the mat, his non-underhook arm broke his fall. In fact, it broke his fall a bit too hard, dislocating the elbow from its joint. That’s a freak accident; Jenkins didn’t reach too far and land on a straight elbow as we sometimes see. It should have been a fairly innocent moment, but instead, it ended the fight.
- Gabriel Miranda defeats Shane Young via first-round rear naked choke: Two rear naked chokes to start the card! Mirando caught a kick and jumped the back almost immediately. Young opted not to fall to the floor, which allowed Miranda to fully commit his arms to ruthlessly attacking the neck, finding his way under the chin in short fashion. Given that Young has now lost four straight and missed weight for this one, one would assume this will go down as his final appearance in the Octagon.
- Kevin Jousset defeats Kiefer Crosbie via first-round rear naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): The first fight of the evening produced a nice finish. Jousset is a City Kickboxing product, but it was his ground game that sealed the deal when he capitalized off a takedown attempt from Crosbie to gain top position. Crosbie stayed in the face down turtle for too long, allowing Jousett to wrap up his neck with little resistance.
For complete UFC 293: “Adesanya vs. Strickland” results and play-by-play, click HERE!