Breaking Down UFC 293: Strickland’s Stunning Upset Adds to a Surprising Trend in the UFC

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UFC 293 concluded with an astonishing twist as Sean Strickland orchestrated a remarkable upset to seize the middleweight title from Israel Adesanya. Before that seismic moment, the main card of the event featured standout performances that set Alexander Volkov and Manel Kape on intriguing trajectories. Here, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi, and Jeff Wagenheim share their reactions to the most significant moments of the night.

Israel Adesanya had seemingly all the elements in his favor. He was poised to fight in Sydney, a mere hop across the Tasman Sea from his home in Auckland, New Zealand. This marked Adesanya’s return to the Down Under since his triumph in capturing the UFC middleweight championship in 2019. Back then, he not only exhibited a sublime performance inside the octagon but also dazzled with a boldly choreographed walkout. Now, he was back, ready to once again captivate the fans in his corner of the world.

However, Sean Strickland had other plans, effectively stealing the spotlight in the UFC 293 main event. Over the course of five rounds, Strickland relentlessly pursued Adesanya, subjecting him to a barrage of strikes en route to securing a clear unanimous decision victory and the coveted 185-pound championship. It was a true shocker.

The Qudos Bank Arena had initially been envisioned as an Adesanya showcase. Strickland had been a Plan B opponent, added to the title fight card only when Dricus Du Plessis, the newly crowned top-ranked contender in the 185-pound division following his upset victory over former champion Robert Whittaker, was unable to compete on this date. Strickland, whose position in the middleweight rankings was considerably lower, was riding a modest two-fight winning streak. His record didn’t boast a single victory over a top-five opponent.

Nonetheless, Strickland stepped up with unwavering determination. Despite being pegged as a 5-1 underdog in betting odds, he proved to be the perfect foil for Adesanya. Strickland fearlessly marched forward, showing no hesitation in trading blows—a facet where Adesanya had previously excelled.

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