In one of the biggest upsets in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history, Sean Strickland just defeated Israel Adesanya in UFC 293’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event tonight (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) to take the 185-pound Middleweight title back home to the United States.
Indeed, no one expected Strickland to walk into Adesanya’s backyard and win against “The Last Stylebender.” Not even Strickland himself, who admitted after the win that he had serious doubts he could defeat the man who had already whupped several of his fighter friends.
But, as mentioned, “Tarzan” didn’t just eke out a win, he delivered a tight and controlled performance to take a unanimous decision, 49–46 on all three judges’ scorecards (watch highlights here).
Strickland is not a flashy fighter. He used a basic tight boxing defense and careful distance control to protect himself from Adesanya’s attacks and never over-committed on his own. He kept constant pressure on Adesanya with his movement, always keeping the champ on the backfoot. He never strayed too close, though, unless it was to attack and then reset at distance.
As for Adesanya, to say it wasn’t his best performance would be an understatement. The proud crowd “Down Under” was left wondering what was up ... and he never seemed to get comfortable enough to flow like he has in the past. It’s not the first time he’s been all jammed up, though. His most recent fight against Robert Whittaker and the following bout against Jared Cannonier saw Izzy struggle to shift into higher gears.
Take a look at some of the stunned reactions from fans and fighters around the world on X (the site formerly known as Twitter):
The division has movement. Congrats @SStricklandMMA great fight mate. Can’t wait for the future— Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) September 10, 2023
all chinese lost their belts— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) September 10, 2023
The “spar only” method crowns the new ufc middleweight world champion. Well done Sean. Unlucky Izzy. Two quality operators as well as complete opposite characters facing off, where else would you get it. Incredible! What a sport. What a company! @ufc is King.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) September 10, 2023
good finally defeated evil— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) September 10, 2023
Male man as champ pic.twitter.com/kLZW3ji5Jt
Wow! Did not see that coming— Dricus Du Plessis (@dricusduplessis) September 10, 2023
All of you, EAT YOUR FUCKING WORDS!!!— Chris Curtis The Action Man (@Actionman513) September 10, 2023
Unbelievable... MMA is the craziest sport in the world. I Fucking love this.— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) September 10, 2023
YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THE COVER NOW EA— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) September 10, 2023
SEAN STRICKLAND SUPREMACY IS HERE pic.twitter.com/vZPv1SYZQa
Israel Adesanya Lost = The Drake Curse Lives On pic.twitter.com/i43NlfrrOx— Andromeda (@G7Penguin) September 10, 2023
Unbelievable! Sean really showed up. Kept such an impressive pace. Nicksick for Coach of the Year. pic.twitter.com/FzzZMg6Qx6— MS (@UFC_Obsessed) September 10, 2023
The judges freaking nailed it!!! That never happens.— Funky (@Benaskren) September 10, 2023
That’s the most crazy outcome I have ever see… was not a knockout was five rounds of domination #UFC293— Renato Moicano UFC (@moicanoufc) September 10, 2023
Strickland could of done 5 more rounds fuckin wild. #UFC293— Tim Welch (@TimwelchMT) September 10, 2023
The best part about that win for Sean Strickland is that he did it for 25 minutes. He did it standing.— Luke Thomas ️♀️ (@lthomasnews) September 10, 2023
No fluke. No bad ref stoppage. No screwed up judging.
Fair and square. That's just the fact.
Whittaker, Cannonier, Vettori and Costa, will you please come forward. This here is your get out of jail free card...— Chuck Mindenhall (@ChuckMindenhall) September 10, 2023
Dope for Sean . Ranked 7 gets the shot and crushes the moment . Bisping was ranked 9 i Believe , got the shot and won . I was ranked 3 on a 5 fight winning streak and never got my shot . I’m so bitter and I can admit it haha . #UFC293— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) September 10, 2023
Very odd performance from Israel Adesanya. No real flair or urgency at all. Sean’s pressure is absolutely ridiculous. He deserves that with that performance.— Lewis Simpson (@LewisSimpsonMMA) September 10, 2023
Reminder:— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 10, 2023
UFC brass didn’t want to book this fight. Dragged their feet. Tried to book at least 2 other main events because they didn’t think Strickland was game. Booked it a month ago because there were no options left.
What a sport.
We’ve confirmed Pereira doesn’t even have to be in the same division to mess with Izzy’s life. pic.twitter.com/O9XfIDnqUR— MS (@UFC_Obsessed) September 10, 2023
For complete UFC 293 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.