Against all odds, Sean Strickland is the new Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion.
Nevertheless, “Tarzan” shocked the mixed martial arts (MMA) world, sweeping Adesanya on all three judges’ scorecards in UFC 293’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event (watch highlights here) last night (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia. It was a measured and patient performance from Strickland, and Adesanya never managed to get his striking offense off effectively in response.
And by the end of the fight, it was clear who the winner was. Following the 25-minute clash, Strickland sounded just as surprised as everyone else.
“I thought I was going to leave with a concussion,” he joked at UFC 293’s post-fight press conference. “But, I feel relatively fine other than a few bumps and bruises. The gameplan was to wrestle, we wrestled all camp but ... you know, when you’re a little autistic you just kind of do what you do.
“I think I’m one of the best strikers in the world,” he said, more seriously. “Anytime you’re doing the man dance, you’re one punch away from being knocked out. But, I can spar with any world champion boxer and get the better of them so I don’t know. I just think I’m one of the best strikers in the world ... I just think sometimes I run my mouth so much that people forget that I know how to fight.”
Asked if he thought Adesanya underestimated him, Strickland laughed.
“I mean apparently so, man,” he replied. “I feel like the guy didn’t even try, there’s moments where he’s throwing punches where I’m like, ‘Am I fighting an amateur right now? What the f— is going on?’”
Strickland confirmed he was down for an immediate rematch ... or anything UFC wanted because that’s how the job works.
“If I’ve learned anything about the UFC, since when do you have a f—ing choice of who you fight?” he quipped. “UFC never comes up and says, ‘Hey, Sean, would you like to fight this guy or would you like to fight this guy?’ The UFC says, ‘Hey, you’re fighting this guy, fight this guy.’ I’m the champion so line them up, I’ll knock them down or get knocked down.”
UFC’s new Middleweight roost-ruler said being champion wasn’t going to change anything with his life. In fact, he was dismissive regarding the implications of now being the best 185-pound fighter in the world.
“I just like to fight, man,” he said. “You guys don’t understand. I fight because it allows me to train. So, all this does is finance my hobby. The only reason I fight is because I have a hobby of training ... and this allows me to do it. I’m going to make more money now, guys. My Hyundai Accent, I’m going to put some spinners on that motherf—er. I’m gonna have a $16,000 Hyundai Accent with like a $20,000 spinning rim. I’m going to lift that mother, it’s going be great.
“I’m going to go back to training, everyone’s going to congratulate me, I’ll say, ‘thank you guys!’ and we’ll just move the f— on,” Strickland continued. “This s— doesn’t make me happy. I actually don’t know what does make me happy at times.”
Immediately after the fight between Adesanya and Strickland ended, Izzy spoke to Strickland for several moments.
“It was strange, it was strange, man,” Strickland said about the exchange. “I think he was mad that I made fun of his dog — I’m not even joking. I’m like, ‘What the f— is going on here, man. Are we having this conversation?’ Like truly, he was mad, yeah. Izzy I’m sorry I made fun of your dog. I’m sure he’s a great fella.”
After being told Adesanya was referring to his dog that had passed away that is tattooed on his neck, Strickland responded in the most Strickland way ever.
“Oh, is that what it is? I have killed a dog once,” he offered. “Crazy story. I have a weird past man, weird past.
“I’m going to clarify that statement because my Instagram is going to get flooded,” he said later, circling back. “I was hiking once, I had a bunch of dogs off leash with my little rascals running around. And there were these stray dogs, like vicious f—ing pitbulls and they came running at my dog. I had a gun, boom, plugged one. So, to clarify, it was self defense. But anyways, yeah, it was a f—ing dog, Izzy. Calm the f— down, dude. Aww, no Izzy I’m sorry, I’m sure your dog’s a great fella. This is how it starts, guys.
“No more dog questions in here, guys, it’s getting f—ing awkward,” Strickland finished.
“Tarzan” also addressed the Sydney crowd, which seemed surprisingly on his side given he was the outsider coming to Australia to fight an Oceanic champion.
“Walking out, all the love,” Strickland said. “Even the fourth round, fifth round cheering. But, at the end of the day, Izzy made it easy. He walked out with Chinese shorts. Like how the f—, I know he’s not Australian, but how does that happen? All Izzy had to do was say, ‘Hey you guys, Australia, New Zealand.’
“I’m sure Izzy’s spent a lot of time in Australia,” Strickland continued. “All Izzy had to do, ‘Guys, I am an immigrant to New Zealand and an immigrant to this part of the world and you guys welcomed me as one of your own and you guys gave me a great life. And I want to thank everyone for that and giving me this opportunity.’
“But he f—ing didn’t,” Strickland continued. “He f—ing didn’t. He said, ‘I am Chinese.’ I don’t know guys, what does one say to this?”
Strickland is one of the oddest men in MMA, and that’s saying something. He credits his off-color personality to an extreme youth filled with violence and abuse. Asked if that adversity helped shape him toward this title win, Strickland laughed darkly.
“Thank God for child abuse, right?” he said. “Yeah, let’s go, childhood traumas or repressed memories! You got me to where I needed to be, man. Dad, you’re f—ing awesome, man. All the years of abuse, you really made me the man I had to be today. I don’t know, you guys. I’m just happy this world has a place for us, you know? If it wasn’t for this I’m sure I would have committed some random act of violence and been locked up for killing somebody.
“So huzzah to the UFC, thanks for saving someone’s life, including my own,” Strickland concluded.
For complete UFC 293 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.