Sean Strickland Shocks World With Win over Israel Adesanya

November 15, 2023
4 months

Sean Strickland’s victory over Israel Adesanya in the UFC 293 Middleweight title fight was stunning. But it wasn’t just the win that turned heads, although Strickland was a big underdog on the betting line. The way that Strickland won was stunning.

The first-time title challenger dominated Adesanya for the duration of the fight. Strickland dictated the style and pace and won a clear, no-controversy 49-46 decision on all three scorecards to grab the title. While the event overall may not have had many long-lasting impacts beyond what happened Saturday night in Sydney, Australia, here’s some news and notes from the card.

Strickland Did It His Way

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Strickland (28-5) didn’t necessarily earn his place in the middleweight title fights. The UFC had hoped to have Dricus Du Plesis take on Adesanya, but he declined due to a foot injury. Strickland was just 2-2 over his past four fights, including a knockout loss to Alex Pereira.

While Strickland is more known for his outlandish and usually pretty crass statements, during press conferences and media interviews, he did make an inspirational comeback to the octagon. Strickland was forced to take two years off from October 2018 to October 2020 following a motorcycle accident that nearly killed him.

Since returning, Strickland has piled up an 8-2 record including his win over Adesanya. His two losses during that streak were to former champion Periera and title challenger Jared Cannonier. 

Being Passive Sinks Adesanya

While Adesanya is regarded as one of the best middleweights ever, he has faced criticism throughout his career due to his tendency to counter-strike instead of hunting for knockouts. During his title fight with Strickland, Adesanya allowed Strickland to pressure him and spent much of the fight backpedaling.

This cost Adesanya in the first round when Strickland got him with a clean right and sent Adesanya to the canvas. Over five rounds, Adesanya only landed 34 percent of his significant strikes. Adesanya attempted 154 strikes to Strickland’s head and only landed 22 of them.

Volkov Steamrolls Tuivasa

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There would be no drinking beer out of shoes for Tai Tuivasa. The Australian heavyweight, who likes to celebrate victories with a post-fight drink out of shoes, took a rough loss to Russian heavyweight Alexander Volkov. Volkov, 34, had recently moved to the United States to focus on his grappling and demonstrated his improvement.

Despite eating many leg kicks that restricted his movement, Volkov dragged Tuivasa to the mat in the second round. After sliding into mount and landing heavy ground-and-pound, Volkov could submit Tuivasa with an Ezekiel choke in the waning seconds of the round. It was Volkov’s fourth win by submission and his first since 2016. Volkov has finished three consecutive fights and improved his career record to 37-10.

Felipe dos Santos Impressed in Loss

Brazilian flyweight Felipe dos Santos was supposed to fight on Dana White Contender’s Series first but got a call to the big show when Kai Kara-France pulled out of his scheduled fight with Manuel Kape due to an injury. Kape would end up winning a 30-27 and 29-28 (x2) decision, but dos Santos proved to be capable of hanging with a veteran fighter.

This fight, unfortunately, may be most remembered for Kape calling out the City Kickboxing team, which Kara-France is a part of, with a homophobic slur after the fight.

Was that Worth the Wait?

Justin Tafa and Austen Lane had their first fight in June end with an accidental eye poke. When the UFC rebooked the fight, they hoped to get a lot of action from the heavyweights. Tafa produced a highlight the UFC was looking for.

Tafa got Lane with a heavy hook a little over a minute into the first round. He followed up with vicious ground-and-pound that forced a referee stoppage.

The Pleasure Man Has a Rough Night

Anton Turkalj, also known as “The Pleasure Man,” didn’t have an extended stay at UFC 293. Taking on Australian fighter Tyson Pedro proved to be a big challenge. Turkalj decided to try and trade strikes with the Australian fighter known for quick finishes. Pedro caught Turkalj clean nearly midway through the first round and put him out cold with strikes on the ground.

After Review, It’s a Submission

The light heavyweight fight between Carlos Ulberg and Jung Da Un saw the scorecards. However, referee Herb Dean had to go to the monitor after the horn sounded to figure out what happened. The fight ended with Ulberg attempting to finish a rear-naked choke while laying on top of Da Un’s back alongside the cage.

Da Un did tap out with 11 seconds remaining, but Dean missed it live. After going to the monitors and taking a look, the decision was reversed and recorded as a submission instead of a decision. Either way, Ulberg would have won the fight.

Radtke Disappoints in Fight, Interview

During the early prelims, Charlie Radtke was upset with fans booing him after his 29-27 (x3) decision win over Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha. He would have his interview with Daniel Cormier quickly cut off with Daniel Cormier after using a gay slur to describe the crowd. He issued a written apology on X, formerly known as Twitter, later in the evening.

The fans booed Radtke’s fight performance because he spent over five minutes controlling Blood Diamond against the cage, looking for a takedown in the clinch. Radtke never scored the takedown.

Jenkins Suffers Arm Injury in Ugly Loss

Australian Jack Jenkins put his arm down to try and brace for a fall during his featherweight fight with Chepe Mariscal. Mariscal was attempting to toss him to the mat. The fall ended up dislocating Jenkins’ elbow and giving Mariscal a TKO win. 

Here’s a look at some of the other fifths not discussed above:

  • Lightweight: Jamie Mullarkey win by decision over John Madessi, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
  • Lightweight: Nasrat Haqparast win by decision over Landon Quinones, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
  • Catchweight: Gabriel Miranda submitted Shane Young, 0:59 first round.
  • Welterweight: Kevin Jousett submitted Kiefer Crosbie, 4:49 first round.

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