By Dane McGuire
It’s hard to say what was more surprising after the UFC 293 main event: Sean Strickland beating Israel Adesanya or the now former champion’s performance.
After withstanding a first round barrage from Strickland that looked like it could lead to a finish, Adesanya rebounded by taking the second round in the opinion of this writer.
Strickland would use his boxing and defense to keep Izzy moving most of the bout before taking the unanimous decision. The final totals were 49-46 across the board.
“Am I f****** dreaming?” Strickland said immediately afterward. “Never in a million years would I thought I’d be here. Izzy’s a bad motherf*****. He’s beat the majority of my friends and even I was kind of doubting myself at times.
“I worked my ass off. I give up so many brain cells to the MMA gods everyday. This is the first time I’m at a loss for words.”
Adesanya was humble in defeat though. While his second middleweight title regin was over before it truly started, his first run was so impressive that UFC President Dana White is already calling for a rematch.
“Obviously, I expected a completely different main event,” White said at the UFC 293 post-fight press conference. “Whether Izzy won or Strickland won, nobody saw that coming. That Izzy would come in flat and slow and whatever’s going on with him, I don’t think anybody expected to see that.”
Adesanya was heard expressing frustration with his coach that he couldn’t find success with his jab. White noticed as well.
“He looked like he couldn’t get off,” White said. “He looked like he was really stiff tonight. He looked very slow. Only Israel knows what’s going on. I’m very curious to see what he says at this press conference tonight.
“There are a million things that could go wrong. Some days you wake up and you’re just not there, man. It’s just not there. He looked bone-dry tonight, standing up really tall. He looked very slow. He looked like he couldn’t get off at all. Even in the fifth round when everybody knew he needed a knockout to win the fight, there was no sense of urgency to try to finish the fight. So I don’t know if he’s hurt or if tonight’s the night.
“I think you do the rematch,” White said. “Absolutely. The rematch is interesting.”