Nigeria’s Isreal Adesanya has suffered a great upset as Sean Strickland defeated him in the mixed martial arts world.
Adesanya’s defeat to American’s Strickland which was held on Sunday morning, September 10, 2023, made him lose his UFC middleweight title.
In the main event of UFC 293, American Strickland stunned hot favourite Adesanya to win the 185-pound belt with a unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) to prevail in a five-round slugfest.
At the sold-out Qudos Bank Arena, Strickland landed several stinging punches to the head and had Adesanya on the back foot throughout.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be here,” said Strickland, who inflicted Nigeria’s Adesanya’s third defeat from 27 fights.
“I thought I would be walking away a little broken up. I’m a little shocked that didn’t happen. This is the first time I’m lost for words.”
Strickland, who caused controversy ahead of the fight with misogynistic comments about putting women back in the kitchen, agreed to fight on late notice after Adesanya’s South African rival Dricus du Plessis was unavailable.
Fifth-ranked Strickland earned his title shot after wins over Abus Magomedov and Nassourdine Imavov.
In the first UFC fight held in Sydney since 2017, both fighters felt each other out initially amid a febrile atmosphere.
The 32-year-old attempted to play to his strengths of wrestling and striking from close range in a bid to produce a major upset.
He made his move late in the first round after connecting with a powerful right-hand punch that felled Adesanya.
After surviving Strickland’s flurry, Adesanya regrouped in the second round and utilised his favoured kicks to deadly effect.
Adesanya threatened to take control in round three before Strickland landed a left hook as the fight went the distance.
Strickland (28-5) was unrelenting and trash-talked a bloodied Adesanya, a former kickboxer considered the marquee fighter in mixed martial arts, in the waning seconds with a shock title secured