In a stunning turn of events at UFC 293, American fighter Sean Strickland pulled off a major upset by defeating the highly favored Israeli-born New Zealander, Israel Adesanya. The 32-year-old Strickland, known for his controversial comments leading up to the fight, emerged victorious with a unanimous five-round decision. This historic event marked the return of the UFC to Australia’s largest city after a six-year hiatus.
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Sean Strickland’s journey to the middleweight title was shrouded in controversy due to his sexist and misogynistic comments during the pre-fight press conferences. These comments stirred up considerable backlash and cast a shadow over the lead-up to the bout. Nevertheless, Strickland’s performance in the octagon silenced many of his critics.
Despite the pre-fight controversy, Strickland showcased his counterattacking prowess, landing more impactful strikes throughout the match. Adesanya, the defending champion, struggled to find a way to effectively counter Strickland’s strategy.
The first round saw Strickland land a clean straight shot that sent Adesanya to the canvas. Strickland capitalized on this opportunity by delivering a flurry of strikes, securing the round in his favor. Adesanya, however, regrouped in the second and third rounds, displaying his kicking and right-hand skills. Yet, he continued to leave himself open to Strickland’s body and head strikes.
The Final Rounds
As the fight progressed, Adesanya found it increasingly difficult to break through Strickland’s defenses. In the final rounds, Strickland seized the opportunity to press the attack, unleashing a barrage of punches and kicks in the closing minutes, solidifying his claim to the middleweight title.
After the fight, an emotional Strickland expressed his disbelief at the outcome. “Am I dreaming? Am I going to wake up? Someone hit me … I don’t cry much, but I’m trying to keep it together right now,” he said. “I give up so many brain cells to the MMA gods … I thought I’d be walking away a little bloody, a little broken up. I’m a little shocked that didn’t happen.”
UFC Fan Support
Strickland credited the enthusiastic support of the Australian fans as a motivating factor. He acknowledged the crowd’s impact on his performance, particularly during the fourth round when their cheers fueled him.
Controversy Beyond the Octagon
The UFC 293 fight also made waves in the New South Wales state legislature. The state faced criticism for providing approximately $10 million in funding to host the event in Sydney after Strickland’s derogatory comments about women. The controversy surrounding Strickland’s remarks raised questions about the use of public funds to support such events.
Strickland’s Path to Victory
Sean Strickland stepped into the spotlight on short notice after Adesanya’s originally scheduled opponent, Dricus du Plessis, suffered an injury. Strickland, ranked fifth in the middleweight division, earned his title shot through impressive victories over Abus Magomedov and Nassourdine Imavov.
In the co-main event, Alexander Volkov secured a victory in the heavyweight division by submitting his opponent, 30-year-old Sydney native Tai Tuivasa, in the second round. Despite facing an injury to his front leg, Volkov dominated the fight with a lopsided strike count and ultimately trapped Tuivasa in a choke hold, forcing him to tap out. This win marked Volkov’s first submission victory since 2016.
The main card featured several exciting bouts. Australian Tyson Pedro delivered a knockout in the first round against Sweden’s Anton Turkalj. New Zealander Justin Tafa replicated this feat by knocking out American Austen Lane in a heavyweight showdown. In a flyweight match, Manel Kape defeated Felipe dos Santos by a unanimous decision after five thrilling rounds.
Sean Strickland’s unexpected victory over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable moments in UFC history. Despite the controversy leading up to the fight, Strickland’s skill and determination earned him the middleweight title, showcasing the unpredictable nature of mixed martial arts.
What were the controversial comments made by Sean Strickland before the fight?
Strickland made sexist and misogynistic comments during the pre-fight press conferences, drawing significant criticism from the MMA community.
Why was there controversy surrounding the use of public funds for UFC 293 in Sydney?
The controversy arose because the state of New South Wales provided approximately $10 million in funding for the event, despite Strickland’s derogatory comments about women.
How did Alexander Volkov secure victory in the co-main event?
Volkov won by submitting his opponent, Tai Tuivasa, in the second round, despite facing an injury to his front leg.
Were there any notable undercard fights at UFC 293?
Yes, there were several exciting undercard fights, including knockout victories by Tyson Pedro and Justin Tafa, as well as a flyweight bout won by Manel Kape.
What’s next for Sean Strickland after winning the middleweight title?
Strickland’s victory opens up numerous possibilities for his future, including potential title defenses and high-profile matchups in the middleweight division.