After reclaiming his title from rival Alex Pereira, UFC Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, makes the first defense of his new reign in friendly territory this weekend (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) when he battles Sean Strickland inside Qudos Arena in Sydney, Australia. Local fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, returns to action in UFC 293’s co-feature, which pits him against lethal Heavyweight veteran, Alexander Volkov, while rising Flyweight Manel Kape meets late replacement, Felipe dos Santos.
Seven “Prelims” undercard bouts will set UFC 293’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card stage. Let’s look at the first three on ESPN+ ...
170 lbs.: Blood Diamond vs. Charlie Radtke
Mike Mathetha (3-2) — the man they call “Blood Diamond” — went 51-14 in the kickboxing ring before turning his full attention to MMA. He’s still chasing his first UFC win after falling to Jeremiah Wells and Orion Cosce.
He’s the taller man by one inch.
Once a 3-3 Lightweight, Charlie Radtke (7-3) breathed new life into his career by moving up to 170 pounds. His last win was his biggest to date, as he choked out undefeated Raheam Forest to claim CFFC gold.
The win marked his fifth professional finish and second via submission.
This is Mathetha’s most winnable UFC matchup to date just by virtue of Radtke being a striker. Still, it’s hard to have much faith in City Kickboxing’s red-headed stepchild — I’d never pegged his style as a good fit for mixed martial arts (MMA) and his recent efforts have done little to convince me that I was wrong.
Radtke’s power makes him a threat to Mathetha on the feet. And while he’s not much of a takedown artist, he is a very adept scrambler who could make Mathetha’s life hell if he decides to take it south. Even if it does stay standing, Mathetha’s inability to put away a half-dead Cosce makes me think Radtke can hold his own. Indeed, Radtke overpowers him somewhere around the midway point.
Prediction: Radtke via second round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Shane Young vs. Gabriel Miranda
Back-to-back wins over Rolando Dy and Austin Arnett put Shane Young’s (13-7) loss to Alexander Volkanovski in the rearview mirror and upped his record to 7-1 in his previous eight. He now finds himself winless in four years after falling to Ludovit Klein, Omar Morales and Blake Bilder.
He’ll have a 1.5-inch reach advantage despite standing three inches shorter than Gabriel Miranda (16-6).
“Fly” — winner of seven of his previous eight — moved up in weight on short notice to battle Benoit Saint-Denis in his UFC debut. Though he showed admirable heart, he succumbed to “God of War’s” power early in the second round.
All of his professional wins have come inside the distance, 15 of them via submission.
Miranda was never going to beat Saint-Denis — his submission skills were a non-factor against a much larger and more powerful wrestler. This, on the other hand, looks a fair bit more winnable. Young had zero snap in his punches against the very hittable Bilder and his wrestling has let him down before, suggesting that Miranda can take things to the mat without fear of another battering.
At this point in Young’s career, he just seems like he doesn’t have it. Beating two of the worst fighters on UFC’s roster and showing little life in his four defeats doesn’t give me hope for his future. Miranda got torched himself last time out, but there were enough extenuating circumstances and he’s skilled enough in his wheelhouse to earn my nod.
Prediction: Miranda via first round submission
170 lbs.: Kevin Jousset vs. Kiefer Crosbie
City Kickboxing’s Kevin Jousset (8-2) claimed Middleweight gold in Hex Fight Series by outlasting Priscus Fogagnolo. Three months later, he dropped back down to 170 pounds, where he pounded out Kitt Campbell to claim the promotion’s Welterweight title as well.
He is the taller man by three inches.
Kiefer Crosbie (10-3) — fighting out of SBG — ended his three-year Bellator run at 4-3 in the promotion. After bouncing back with a quick finish of the hopelessly overmatched Brian Lo-A-Njoe, he claimed his biggest scalp to date by brutalizing Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira in April 2023.
He’s knocked out five professional opponents and submitted two others.
This goes one of two ways. If the Aussie crowd get what they want, Jousset will use his size and grappling advantages to dump Crosbie to the mat and pound him into submission. If not, Crosbie will use his speed and power to exploit Jousset’s key weakness: people just walking up to him and throwing 100 punches at his face.
In all seriousness, it’s a question of whether Jousset can tie up Crosbie before the former’s lack of speed and head movement earn him a fight-ending flurry to the dome. I’ll be an optimist and say, “Yes.” That’s because after watching Crosbie fall apart against Charlie Leary and Georgi Karakhanyan, I have more faith in Jousset’s ability to fight through adversity than in Crosbie’s. In the end, he ground-and-pounds his way to victory.
Prediction: Jousset via second round technical knockout
Four UFC 293 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including the latest from Jack Jenkins and Carlos Ulberg. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 293 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPNN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 293: “Adesanya vs. Strickalnd” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.