Sean Strickland is the new middleweight champion.
“Tarzan” upset the 185-pound apple cart by beating up former titleholder Israel Adesanya for the better part of five rounds in the UFC 293 pay-per-view (PPV) headliner last night (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, capturing a unanimous decision victory and sending shockwaves throughout the division.
The fight wasn’t even supposed to happen.
Adesanya, who regained his title by stopping Alex Pereira at UFC 287 back in April, was in talks to battle No. 1-ranked middleweight contender Dricus Du Plessis after “Stillknocks” whooped former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 last July; however, the bout fell apart when Du Plessis asked for an extended leave of absence.
You can be so glad I’m not the one in there with you tonight #ufc293— Dricus Du Plessis (@dricusduplessis) September 10, 2023
Wow! Did not see that coming— Dricus Du Plessis (@dricusduplessis) September 10, 2023
It’s hard to say if the UFC 293 upset was Adesanya laying an egg or Strickland rising to the occasion. “The Last Stylebender” is no stranger to close calls, or losses, but looked flat and uninspired throughout all five rounds. By contrast, Strickland is a proven commodity at 185 pounds, it just got clouded by all his antics (and idiotic comments) outside the cage.
Either way, I think we can all agree he’s higher than a three.
It will be interesting to see what the promotion plans to do with Strickland moving forward. There’s the possibility of an immediate rematch, or “Tarzan” could move forward and make his first middleweight title defense against Du Plessis. Let’s also keep in mind that UFC 293 backup fighter, Jared Cannonier, holds a win over Strickland.
For complete UFC 293 results, coverage, and highlights click HERE.