UFC 293 concluded with a major upset as Sean Strickland dethroned Israel Adesanya to become the new middleweight champion. The event, held in Sydney, was originally planned as an Adesanya showcase, but Strickland turned it into his own show. Despite being a Plan B opponent, Strickland walked down Adesanya for five rounds, battering him and earning a clear unanimous decision.
Adesanya, who was known for his fantastic performances and bold walkouts, had everything set up for him. Fighting in his home region, he was expected to entertain the fans once again. However, Strickland, a 5-1 underdog, proved to be the perfect foil for Adesanya. Strickland marched forward, unafraid of getting hit, which was Adesanya’s specialty. Throughout the fight, Adesanya struggled to find his rhythm and connect his strikes.
The turning point came in the first round when Strickland dropped Adesanya with a straight right hand and followed up with a flurry of punches. Although Adesanya survived, he absorbed much more damage than he was able to deliver for the remainder of the fight. Strickland’s relentless pressure and aggression wore down Adesanya, and he walked him down until the final seconds of Round 5. When the fight concluded, Strickland raised his arms in triumph, breaking into tears as the gold belt was wrapped around his waist.
While Strickland’s victory is undoubtedly a significant moment for the UFC, it also presents a new challenge. Strickland has courted controversy with his racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments, which puts the UFC in a difficult position. Although concerns over these comments have been dismissed in the past, Strickland’s win over Adesanya has brought them back into the spotlight.
The landscape of UFC championships has dramatically changed in recent years. Long gone are the days of dominant champions like Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre. Championship reigns have become rare, with few fighters able to defend their titles multiple times. Volatility within the championship picture has become the norm, as titles frequently change hands or go vacant.
With Strickland now holding the middleweight title, questions arise about his future and the state of the division. Will his reign be short-lived, like many other recent champions, or will he have staying power? And how will he shape the sport during his time as champion?
Analyzing the Rematch Possibility
Looking ahead, a rematch between Strickland and Adesanya seems to be the logical next step. Adesanya appeared flat in their first fight, leading to speculations about the possible influence of his previous bout against Alex Pereira. Determining the cause of Adesanya’s underperformance is crucial in understanding the potential outcome of a rematch.
If an immediate rematch is not feasible, Dricus du Plessis becomes a viable option. As the top-ranked contender, du Plessis could provide a challenging matchup for Strickland. Additionally, the middleweight division is set for a period of movement and change with upcoming fights between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev.
An Underestimated Contender at Heavyweight
While the focus of the event was on the middleweight title fight, Alexander Volkov‘s victory over Tai Tuivasa should not go unnoticed. Volkov, standing at 6-foot-7 with an 80-inch reach, poses a challenge to many opponents due to his size and striking skills. Despite previous losses, Volkov’s recent winning streak showcases his potential as a top contender in the heavyweight division.
At 34 years old, Volkov may be entering the prime of his career. Heavyweights typically peak later in MMA, and we may not have seen the best version of him yet. His stature and skill set make him an intriguing matchup for fighters like Jon Jones, should he decide to move up to heavyweight.
, UFC 293 delivered unexpected outcomes, with Sean Strickland claiming the middleweight title and Alexander Volkov solidifying his position in the heavyweight division. The future of these divisions is uncertain, but the events of this night have undoubtedly left fans eager to see what comes next.
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