In one of the biggest surprises in UFC history, Sean Strickland defeated Israel Adesanya to win the middleweight championship in Sydney on Saturday.
Adesanya, one of the best strikers in mixed martial arts, was thought to be unbeatable by Strickland, but the challenger defeated Adesanya at UFC 293, combining relentless forward motion with strong defense and clinical performance. Adesanya was defeated by the controversial American, who stated in 2021 that he would like to “kill” an opponent in the ring. The scorecard read 49-46.
Late in Round 1, Strickland, 32, dropped the Nigerian-New Zealander with a flawless right cross that sent Adesanya spinning to the ground before attempting a finish. However, Adesanya, 34, lasted until the final buzzer, indicating that Strickland was not quite able to strike the finishing blow.
Adesanya applauded Strickland when the outcome was determined, despite a heated build-up to the main event. The subsequent rounds were tight, but Strickland consistently appeared to be one step ahead of Adesanya.