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Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland full fight preview | UFC 293

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight talents Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland will go to war TONIGHT (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023) at UFC 293 inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.

I have been openly critical about the circumstances that lead to this fight, as well as the chances of Strickland actually offering up Adesanya more than an easy smackdown. The great part of fighting, however, is that Strickland has a chance to make doubters like myself (and this pound-for-pound killer) look stupid. When the cage locks later this evening, the Middleweight belt is up for grabs, and crazy things tend to happen just as nobody expects them.

Just like this.

Nevertheless, it feels like we’re in for a beatdown or all-time upset ... and both outcomes could be a lot of fun. Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Israel Adesanya

Record: 24-2
Key Wins: Alex Pereira (UFC 287), Robert Whittaker (UFC 271, UFC 243), Jared Cannonier (UFC 276), Marvin Vettori (UFC 263, UFC on FOX 29), Paulo Costa (UFC 253), Yoel Romero (UFC 248), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236, Derek Brunson (UFC 230), Anderson Silva (UFC 234)
Key Losses: Alex Pereira (UFC 281), Jan Blachowicz (UFC 259)
Keys to Victory: Adesanya is perhaps the best kickboxer to ever grace the Octagon. A savvy range technician, Adesanya freezes up his opponents with feints and powerful counters, punishing their indecision with a constant barrage of kicks.

It’s hard to imagine more of a stylistic layup for “Stylebender.” I actually think Strickland is a better fighter than many give him credit for, but it’s just a terrible match for him. Strickland has never demonstrated the kind of wrestling necessary to ground Adesanya, meaning he’s going to try to volume one-two combination a much longer and more powerful distance striker.

Worse yet, Strickland has no consistent answer for low kicks. His general kick defense is not good. If Adesanya answers his jab with chopping low kicks, Strickland will be limping by the six minute mark. More to the point, he’ll be limping, his hands will be parrying, and the high kick setup will be wide open.

Adesanya has the tools to cleanly break down and finish his challenger.

Sean Strickland

Record: 27-5
Key Wins: Jack Hermansson (UFC Vegas 47), Nassourdine Imavov (UFC Vegas 67), Uriah Hall (UFC Vegas 33), Brendan Allen (UFC Vegas 14), Krzysztof Jotko (UFC Vegas 25), Abus Magomedov (UFC Vegas 76)
Key Losses: Alex Pereira (UFC 276), Jared Cannonier (UFC Vegas 66), Kamaru Usman (UFC 210), Elizeu Zalaeski dos Santos (UFC 224)
Keys to Victory: Strickland is statistically a difficult man to punch in the face. He pressures into the pocket well, where his comfort in exchanges allows him to maintain a high pace and force his foes to fatigue.

Simply pressure boxing Adesanya, however, is unlikely to work. He just slept Alex Pereira, a far scarier and more effective stalking knockout artist than Strickland. Walking Adesanya down with jabs and crosses alone just isn’t going to be enough.

It’s essential that Strickland varies his approach. His corner has been screaming at him to punch the body for how many fights? Now is certainly the time. A bit of ugly Diaz-style body work and pressure could pay dividends in this 25-minute fight.

Furthermore, Strickland has to give Adesanya a reason not to just kick his legs off. Countering kicks is essential, but just firing a right hand over the top won’t be enough. I’d like to see Strickland diving for low kick takedowns, as well as making a greater effort to check with his knee. If he can take away that weapon to some extent, perhaps he can really make this a fight.

UFC 293 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Bottom Line

The title is up for grabs!

Adesanya is expected to win widely, and many have claimed anything less than a finish would be a disappointment from the champion. If nothing else, he should be expected to put on a show for the Australian crowd. Barring some absolute chaos, Adesanya should begin his second title reign with another defense, setting him up for Dricus Du Plessis at the end of the year or early in 2024.

As for Strickland, staying active as a Top 10 contender has paid off. He took chances against men lower than him in the rankings, and those victories landed him in a title fight. Of course, it helps that Adesanya has cleared out most of the established contenders, but being in the right place at the right time is a huge part of becoming champion. Strickland is just that, and now, we’ll see if he capitalize and become the most unlikely strap-hanger in recent memory.

At UFC 293, Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland will square off in the main event. Which man earns the victory?

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Remember that 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.

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