In a stunning turn of events, Sean Strickland has etched his name into the annals of UFC middleweight history with what can only be described as the greatest upset in the division’s title fight history.
Strickland, with a professional record of 28-5, sent shockwaves through the mixed martial arts world on Saturday by seizing the coveted 185-pound championship. His path to glory unfolded over five grueling rounds, and his opponent was none other than Israel Adesanya, widely regarded as one of the greatest middleweights of all time. The marquee middleweight title bout headlined UFC 293, held within the confines of Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena.
Prior to this remarkable upset, the middleweight title fight record for biggest upset belonged to Michael Bisping, who etched his name in history by knocking out Luke Rockhold on short notice in 2016. Strickland’s triumph, however, defied even greater odds. He entered the octagon as a +500 underdog against Adesanya, marking it as the most significant betting upset ever witnessed in a UFC middleweight title clash (for context, Bisping was a +400 underdog against Rockhold).
What adds to the sheer incredibility of Strickland’s victory is the convincing manner in which he secured it—dominating Adesanya over the course of five rounds. Overwhelmed by the moment, Strickland exclaimed, “Am I f—ing dreaming? Am I going to wake up? Somebody hit me. Literally, never in a million years did I think I was going to be here. Izzy is a bad mother f—er. You don’t fight a guy with that many highlight-reel KOs. The majority of my friends, he’s beat pretty easy. I was even doubting myself.”
For Adesanya, this bout marked the initiation of his first title defense during his second reign as the middleweight champion. He had recaptured the 185-pound belt in April with a resounding knockout victory over Alex Pereira.
UFC President Dana White has unequivocally voiced his belief that a Strickland-Adesanya rematch is not only warranted but necessary. The stage is set for an intriguing chapter in the middleweight division’s storied history.