TAKEAWAYS FROM UFC 293: STRICKLAND’S STUNNING UPSET CONTINUES AN ALARMING UFC TREND

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When Sean Strickland defeated Israel Adesanya to win the middleweight championship, UFC 293 came to a shocking conclusion. Prior to that, Alexander Volkov and Manel Kape started off on an exciting road thanks to some notable performances on the main card. The night’s most significant events are discussed by Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi, and Jeff Wagenheim. Everything was ready for him thanks to Israel Adesanya. He was fighting in Sydney, just a short flight from his home in Auckland, New Zealand, across the Tasman Sea. After winning the UFC middleweight title in 2019, it was Adesanya’s first match in Australia. Both inside the cage and during a daringly orchestrated walkout, he had a magnificent performance at that time. Now that he was returned, he was ready to once more amuse the followers in his region of the globe. However, on Saturday, Sean Strickland made the UFC 293 main event into his show by beating and submitting Adesanya for five rounds to win a clear unanimous decision and become the 185-pound champion in a genuine shocker. As a showcase for Adesanya, an event at Qudos Bank Arena was planned. Strickland was merely a Plan B opponent booked for the title battle because Dricus Du Plessis, who rose to the top of the 185-pound contender rankings by defeating former champion Robert Whittaker two months ago, was unable to make this date. With only a two-fight winning streak, Strickland stood very low in the middleweight rankings. No victories over any of the top five competitors could be found on the American’s resume. Strickland, however, was prepared and eager, and despite being a 5-1 betting underdog, he was the ideal counterbalance to Adesanya. Strickland is a fearless of being struck fighter who advances slowly. Adesanya is renowned for his striking.     Adesanya, left, succumbed to Strickland's pressure during Saturday's middleweight title match. through Getty Images, Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC After defeating Israel Adesanya at UFC 293, Sean Strickland raises his arms in victory. through Getty Images, Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC   However, Adesanya was the victim of a strike on this particular evening. The worst moment occurred toward the end of Round 1, when Strickland downed the champion with a straight right hand and then pounced with a barrage of left-handed haymakers to the floor. Adesanya made it to the final horn and appeared to have won the second round on the scorecards, but for the rest of the fight, the champion took much more punishment than he gave. Only 34% of Adesanya’s shots were successful. And Strickland wasn’t exactly difficult to locate. The champion was powerless to stop the challenger’s advances as they continued to be made. In the 25 minutes of the fight, how many miles did Strickland travel? Calculating that is challenging. There is, however, one thing that is certain: none of those steps were backward. As the last seconds of Round 5 ticked away, Strickland spotted the opportunity and began speaking to Adesanya as he walked the champion down. He had worn down the opponent. Strickland raised his arms in celebration when the horn sounded. Strickland began to cry after hearing the judges’ scores, which were 49-46 for the contest. The gold belt hung around his waist and he covered his face. As the crowd erupted, Adesanya raised the arm of his victor. It happened for a split second. However, Strickland poses a fresh obstacle for the UFC. In addition to being a long cry from the dominant champions of the UFC’s past, Strickland has courted controversy with racist, homophobic, and misogynistic remarks. Concerns about those remarks have thus far been brushed aside by Dana White, but the victory against Adesanya has made it harder for the UFC to do so. The days of Demetrious Johnson racking up 11 consecutive defenses of the men’s flyweight title, of Anderson Silva crushing the hopes of 10 consecutive middleweight challengers, and of Georges St-Pierre dispatching nine consecutive welterweight opponents are long gone. These days, a long-lasting UFC championship reign is uncommon. The only reigning champion with more than one title defense is Alexander Volkanovski, who has successfully defended his featherweight championship five times. Jon Jones, the heavyweight champion, made three defenses in his second light heavyweight reign and eight in his first. The only UFC champion who won before last year is Volkanovski. Think about how the championship picture has changed over the last five months. At UFC 292 three weeks ago, Sean O’Malley defeated Aljamain Sterling to win the men’s bantamweight championship. The unusual pay-per-view event with no championship fights was UFC 291. (The BMF belt was in play, but what kind of power does that represent? At men’s flyweight, Alexandre Pantoja defeated Brandon Moreno at UFC 290 in early July. At UFC 288, Amanda Nunes successfully defended her bantamweight title. However, she then announced her retirement, leaving two women’s championships unfilled. At UFC 288, Sterling kept his title, although his reign as champion was coming to an end. At UFC 287 in April, another title was handed over, and Adesanya reclaimed his champion status there. However, that position would soon be taken away from him once more. A UFC championship run has changed from a marathon to a sprint. Five of the last seven UFC pay-per-views have seen titles exchange hands or champions leave their belts behind in different ways. There are three open positions at the top of the company’s 12 weight classes. Five winners have never defended their titles. The middleweight division currently has a journeyman athlete holding the title. Strickland entered this night with a record of 2-2 in his previous four matches. There is no denying his success, though. He made the long journey to Adesanya’s homeland and earned the belt legitimately. And Strickland was one of the biggest underdogs to win a UFC championship. Will Strickland have staying power or will his tenure at the top be short, in line with the present trend? Will he improve the sport during his reign, however long it lasts? We’ll soon find out. Who will the new champion and the previous champion face next? Okamoto: What ought to happen next? an additional contest. On the night of the fight, I believe Dana White summed up this situation precisely. He argued that a quick rematch makes sense and even questioned whether Adesanya was fatigued after his career-defining victory against Alex Pereira in April. White claimed that Adesanya has the answers while he does not. And in my opinion, that’s the appropriate way to phrase it. We have questions about this conflict and its outcome. Do Strickland justice. I’m not attempting to deprive him of anything. But I believe we can all agree that Adesanya’s performance at UFC 293 was lackluster. That raises the question, “Why?” Was it true, as White suggested, that Adesanya was still recovering from that pivotal fight from April? Or was it just Strickland’s adeptness on defense and sluggish cadence that caused him real discomfort?
Adesanya, left, succumbed to Strickland's pressure during Saturday's middleweight title match. through Getty Images, Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
The answer to this query should be sought out right away. If the title rematch doesn’t take place for any reason—and given that White is willing to discuss it the night of the fight, that doesn’t seem likely—then Dricus Du Plessis is the first name to come up. Between this outcome and Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev’s fight next month, middleweight is about to experience a lot of movement. In the upcoming months, 185 pounds will require a lot of organization. However, I would anticipate Strickland to fight Du Plessis next if the UFC is unable to schedule a quick rematch for the title. Has Alexander Volkov been underrated by us?  Alexander Volkov finished Tai Tuivasa in the second round of their bout at UFC 293. Mark Evans/Getty Images It’s important to ascertain the answer to this query right away. Dricus Du Plessis is the first name mentioned if the title rematch doesn’t take place for any reason (which, given that White is willing to discuss it the night of the fight, doesn’t seem likely). Between this outcome and Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev’s fight next month, the middleweight division is likely to undergo significant change. At 185 pounds, there will be a lot to figure out in the upcoming months. Has Alexander Volkov been underrated by us? Okamoto: What ought to come next? a second contest. On the night of the fight, I believe Dana White summed up this situation precisely. He argued that a quick rematch makes sense and even questioned whether Adesanya was fatigued after his career-defining victory against Alex Pereira in April. White claimed that Adesanya has the answers while he does not. And in my opinion, that’s the appropriate way to phrase it. We have questions about this conflict and its outcome. Do Strickland justice. I’m not attempting to deprive him of anything. But I believe we can all agree that Adesanya’s performance at UFC 293 was lackluster. That raises the question, “Why?” Okamoto: France’s Kai Kara In his post-fight interview, Kape said to Kara-France, “I’m going to fight you next,” and I can’t think of any circumstance in which he’d be mistaken. As we all know, before Kara-France was forced to withdraw due to injury, that was the bout that was initially scheduled for UFC 293. There is still time to make the fight, and the UFC has lots of advertising materials. There is no other way to describe Kape’s appearance except fantastic. Felipe dos Santos was undoubtedly a touch more competitive than most anticipated before the match. However, Kape ultimately held the reins, and he now appears much more at ease in the Octagon than he did in 2021, when his UFC career began with a loss. These two look well together stylistically. It’ll be a fantastic battle. It should be the main event, please. The battle will be really exciting if the flyweights get some shine. Matheus Nicolau is a wild card. Once more, I don’t see anything preventing the match between France and Kara. I like this rematch, though, if something happens. In their clash in 2021, Nicolau prevailed via split decision. Although Brandon Royval defeated him earlier this year, Nicolau is still ranked higher. This one would make sense from a rankings standpoint, but less so than the smash Kara-France showdown.

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