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Robert Whittaker doesn’t believe Israel Adesanya was ‘off’ at UFC 293: ‘Sean Strickland shut him down’

He called it.

Robert Whittaker was just as impressed by Sean Strickland’s title-winning performance as the rest of the mixed martial arts (MMA) community this past weekend (Sept. 9, 2023) inside Qudos Bank Arena.

America’s “Tarzan” did the unthinkable at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia, dethroning the two-time Middleweight kingpin, Israel Adesanya, with a masterful one-sided unanimous decision (watch highlights). The result left many spectators speechless after expecting the fight to play out in a reverse fashion, but not former division titlist, Whittaker.

“Strickland had an answer for every one of ‘Izzy’s’ techniques,” Whittaker said on his MMArcade Podcast (h/t MMA Junkie). “For every one of ‘Izzy’s’ strengths, Strickland had an answer. He was cutting off the cage perfectly, he was in that threat space where Izzy’s leg kicks were taken out of concern. Strickland, his defensive game was on point.

“With ‘Izzy’ throwing those looping shots as he kind of rope-a-dopes on the fence there, Strickland was patient, just always keeping ‘Izzy’ on the back foot, which was taking out of his gas,” he concluded. “And, mate, he just kept it consistent from the very first second of the fight to the 25th. It was honestly a great performance from Strickland.”

The loss was only Adesanya’s second of his career at 185 pounds and third overall (24-3). Strickland, on the other hand, earned his 28th victory and will next look to secure his first title defense.

It’s just not going to go down this weekend at Noche UFC (Sorry, Eugene).

Despite the amazing performance, some critics (including Strickland) have already come out to say that it was just a bad night for Adesanya rather than a great one for the new champion.

“I see a lot of things popping up saying that ‘Izzy’ looked off,” Whittaker said. “I don’t think he had an off night. He looked off because Sean shut him down. ‘Izzy’ wasn’t given any space in the open floor to do any of his tricky kicks. He wasn’t given any space to work any of his flinch games with his punches. He wasn’t given the chance. Sean was in his face from the first bell ring.”

Indeed, it was all part of an epic gameplan.

For complete UFC 293 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.

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