Sean Strickland Dethrones Israel Adesanya to Claim UFC Middleweight Belt in Major Upset

Sean Strickland entered his title challenge at UFC 293 as a heavy underdog against long-reigning middleweight king Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya, who’s previously only ever lost that belt to kickboxing rival Alex Pereira — which was why Strickland’s dominant unanimous decision victory over Stylebender sent shock waves through the MMA community. Adesanya, who spent the majority of the five rounds trying to survive Strickland’s relentless walkdown, lost 49-46 on all three judges’ scorecards, and didn’t look particularly shocked when the new champion’s hand was raised.

“Pause. I had a different plan for this, but life throws curved balls at you,” Adesanya told reporters at a post-fight press conference. “Win or lose, I wasn’t going to say much anyway. But right now, I lost tonight to the better man on the night. I just want to be with the people that care about me, my team, and they’re waiting for me, so I’m going to do that.”

Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White is already calling for the Adesanya vs. Strickland rematch. “I think you do the rematch,” White said at the post-fight presser. “Absolutely. The rematch is interesting.”


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