Israel Adesanya, the reigning UFC middleweight champion, has his next challenger lined up, and it’s none other than Sean Strickland. This highly anticipated bout is set to take place as the main event of UFC 293 on September 9th in Sydney, Australia. UFC president Dana White made the announcement on Tuesday, much to the excitement of MMA fans around the world.
Adesanya’s Impressive Rankings
Israel Adesanya is ranked as the number 4 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and holds the top spot in the middleweight rankings, according to ESPN. His record speaks for itself, with an impressive 24-2 tally. Adesanya has solidified his dominance in the middleweight division, and fans are eager to see how he will fare against Strickland.
Originally, the UFC had a different plan in mind for the main event of UFC 293. Sources reveal that the promotion was hoping Adesanya would defend his title against the winner of a fight between his rival Robert Whittaker and Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 290 on July 8th. However, Du Plessis emerged victorious with a TKO finish over Whittaker in the second round, throwing a wrench into the initial plan.
The animosity between Adesanya and Du Plessis runs deep. In a post-fight interview, Du Plessis claimed that he would be the first “real” African champion. His argument was that former champions Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, and Francis Ngannou were born in Africa but currently reside elsewhere. Du Plessis, on the other hand, still resides in South Africa. Adesanya took offense to these comments, and tensions soared.
A Change in Opponent
Unfortunately, Du Plessis suffered a foot injury leading up to his fight against Whittaker, rendering him unable to compete at UFC 293. The UFC initially planned to reschedule the Adesanya vs. Du Plessis showdown for a later date. However, Adesanya expressed his desire to stay on the card close to home. As a result, Sean Strickland was chosen as the replacement opponent, and this decision has been in the works for several weeks.
Adesanya, a two-time UFC middleweight champion, is riding high after a second-round knockout victory over Alex Pereira at UFC 287 in April. This win redeemed Adesanya after Pereira had defeated him via TKO to claim the middleweight belt in November at UFC 281. At 34 years old, Adesanya has already solidified his place in history with five successful middleweight title defenses, second only to the legendary Anderson Silva.
Sean Strickland, a 32-year-old resident of Las Vegas, is on a path of redemption himself. After enduring a two-fight losing streak, Strickland has bounced back with two consecutive wins. His most recent triumph was a second-round TKO finish over Abus Magomedov on July 1st. Since moving up to middleweight in 2020, Strickland has won seven of his last nine fights, showcasing his capabilities as a formidable opponent.
The upcoming middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland promises to be a thrilling clash of two highly skilled fighters. Adesanya’s dominance in the division and Strickland’s resurgence after setbacks make this matchup even more intriguing. UFC fans will undoubtedly be eagerly awaiting UFC 293, where these two middleweight contenders will face off in a battle for supremacy.