UFC 293 is right around the corner and marks the UFC’s return to the Down Under. The event will take place live from the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia and will be headlined by New Zealander, Israel Adesanya. Set to make the first defence of his second reign as middleweight champion, The Last Stylebender will clash with Sean Strickland, a man on a winning run of two straight wins.
Many have the champion as a big favourite in this one, however, nothing is ever black and white in MMA as we know.
We take a look at three ways in which this fight could play out at UFC 293.
3 Ways the UFC 293 Main Event Could Play Out
Adesanya Retains via Unanimous, Dominant Decision
Israel Adesanya is one of the most prolific strikers that the UFC has ever seen. After his career in kickboxing, he joined the UFC with a record of 11-0. Several fights later he’s amassed a record of 24-2 with just one loss at middleweight in a fight that he was arguably winning.
During his UFC career, his finishing ability has been largely criticised and his style to just cruise to risk-averse decisions victories isn’t always the most entertaining style. He’s recorded eight decision wins and five knockouts thusfar. With that being said, we know that he has the power to finish anyone at the weight. Most recently, he knocked out Alex Pereira in emphatic fashion.
Sean Strickland isn’t the best striker despite it being his preferred style of fighting. If he chooses to, Strickland’s style lends itself to being comprehensively outstruck by Adesanya across 25 minutes. The champion holds both a height and reach advantage so could pop-shot Strickland for the whole fight and make it a fairly straightforward night for himself.
The Champion Puts on a Show and Finishes Strickland
The second way in which this one could play out is one that many will pick. After plenty of trash talk, Adesanya will look to put on a brutal showing, prove that Strickland isn’t on par with him and dominate from the outset for as long as it lasts. He sits at 3-0 in Australia in the UFC with two finishes and a short-notice decision over Anderson Silva.
Strickland’s walk forwards style, often throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to overwhelm and often fatigue opponents lends itself kindly to Adesanya’s ability to counterstrike. His style does lead him to leaving himself open for counters, however, which the champion’s former foe, Alex Pereira capitalised on, knocking Strickland out in the first round of their bout. Last time out, Abus Magomedov did well in the first round, however, Strickland was able to overwhelm him in the second and get the finish. Don’t expect Adesnaya to fall into the same trap.
Adesanya can, realistically do the same as Pereira, if not in a more devastating style. He’s a more punishing kicker, can punish the legs of Strickland, as he often does and slow the movement down. Strickland, without his ability to avoid strikes with movement is a sitting duck for Izzy, leading to him being in real danger. His defence is fairly rudimental, leaving openings for Adesanya.
Strickland Shocks the World & Causes the Upset
It’s hard to figure out Sean Strickland’s keys to victory in this one. He must mix the martial arts, include clever wrestling transitions and try and catch Adesanya unawares. With that being said, it won’t be easy. He does recognise that he should wrestle but admits he probably won’t.
Sean Strickland said he’s been wrestling a lot in camp but doesn’t plan to wrestle or use jiujitsu on Israel Adesanya because “that sh*t don’t work” LOL What do you guys think? @SStricklandMMA #UFC293 pic.twitter.com/3y7Tbx7w4Q
— Nina-Marie Daniele (@ninamdrama) August 28, 2023
The champion is somewhat famous for his takedown defence, boasting a 77% defence rate. Strickland does have 64% takedown accuracy, however, he hasn’t utilised his wrestling in recent outings. He’s shot for just eight takedowns in his last six fights, of which six of those takedowns came against Uriah Hall.
He has to mix in leg kicks, keep his jab busy and look to clinch with Adesanya, wear him out and take advantage of this fatigue. Unfortunately for the American, it isn’t something that we’ve seen from the champion. He doesn’t tend to get tired, however, there’s always the possibility that he overlooks Strickland. After all, this fight is meant to be the grudge match between Adesanya and Dricus du Plessis. Strickland could surprise Izzy, however, it would take a mammoth effort. It’s not impossible, however…