Returning to the country where he first won UFC gold, Israel Adesanya looks to defend the UFC middleweight title against the outspoken Sean Strickland at UFC 293 on September 9. The fight is in Qudos Bank Arena in Australia.
It is the first time Strickland main-events a PPV. Adesanya and Strickland have colorful personalities and unique styles, with the latter making this an unordinary fight. Just winning back the middleweight title against rival Alex Pereira, can Adesanya keep his hold on the division, or will Strickland make his second reign a quick one?
The co-main event will see Aussie favorite Tai Tuivasa against Alexander Volkov. It could determine the next big heavyweight contender in a stacked division.
Also on the card, Justin Tafa and Austen Lane compete in a rematch, while Australian and New Zealand-based fighters (Jamie Mullarkey, Carlos Ulberg and more) take over.
The Sporting News breaks down every fight on the UFC 293 card, with some help from Sports Interaction.
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Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Sean Strickland for the UFC middleweight title
Per Sports Interaction, Israel Adesanya is the -680 favorite, while Sean Strickland is the +425 underdog.
Adesanya is a complete fighter. He lands 3.94 significant strikes per minute and has a strike defense mark of 57%. Strickland lands 5.86 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 41%. He landed a combined 334 significant strikes against Jared Cannonier and Abus Magomedov.
Strickland averages 1.00 takedowns per 15 minutes and has a 64% takedown accuracy mark. Adesanya has a takedown defense mark of 77%, and while he doesn’t land many takedowns, he has teased working on that part of his game for this fight.
Why is that significant? It has been said many times, but Adesanya is a chameleon; he adapts to the style of an opponent and uses it against them. He neutralised the powerful Cannonier and went strike for strike with Pereira to get a win back. As the fight continues, Adesanya forces his opponents to pay for their mistakes, and if Strickland can’t take him to the ground, “The Last Stylebender” won’t give him the chance to make up for it.
Strickland is unpredictable, in and out of the octagon. Nobody knows what he’s going to do next. The same is said about Adesanya, making them the perfect match. Given the champion’s style, he should walk away with the win. Don’t overlook an upset, but Adesanya has proven time and time again why he’s one of the most elite fighters in MMA today.
Sporting News prediction: Adesanya via unanimous decision
MORE: How much have Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland made in their careers?
Tai Tuivasa vs. Alexander Volkov; heavyweights
Per Sports Interaction, Alexander Volkov is the -240 favorite, while Tai Tuivasa is the +175 underdog.
After going on a roll of a lifetime, Tuivasa had his five-fight win streak snapped against Ciryl Gane and lost his last bout against Sergei Pavlovich. “Bam Bam” lands 4.10 significant strikes per minute but absorbs 4.46 significant strikes, as Gane landed 110 against him.
The Aussie faces Volkov, on a two-fight win streak against heavy-hitters Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Romanov. “Drago” lands 4.89 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 57%.
Both can end the fight right away, and Volkov has come a long way since sleeping on Derrick Lewis and losing after controlling all but the last round of their bout in 2018. One would think Tuivasa has a home-turf edge, but his magical run has ended. The violent Volkov may continue the trend of rising to the top of heavyweight. It will be a hard-hitting affair. However, the Russian should come out on top.
Sporting News prediction: Volkov via TKO (round one)
Manel Kape vs. Felipe dos Santos; flyweights
Per Sports Interaction, Manel Kape is the -400 favorite, while Felipe dos Santos is the +275 underdog.
Dos Santos replaces Kai Kara-France, who backed out due to a concussion suffered during training. Kape has had five fights canceled on him so far, which hasn’t helped his progress since joining the UFC from Rizin.
In the octagon, Kape, on a three-fight win streak, lands 4.46 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 52%. He averages 0.56 takedowns landed per 15 minutes.
Making his UFC debut, dos Santos has fought for Shooto Brazil and LFA, winning three fights via submission and two via knockout. Finally on a roll in the octagon, Kape should get the win here in quick fashion. That is, barring some massive upset.
Sporting News prediction: Kape via KO (round two)
Justin Tafa vs. Austen Lane; heavyweights
Per Sports Interaction, Justin Tafa is the -235 favorite, while Austen Lane is the +175 underdog.
A rematch, Tafa and Lane fought to a no-contest after an accidental eye poke forced Tafa out of the bout. Before the fight ended, Lane landed three significant strikes against Tafa, who missed all his shots.
Tafa was 2-2 in his last four before that bout. He lands 5.02 significant strikes per minute. Lane, a Dana White Contender Series alum, was 1-1 and lands 4.33 significant strikes.
Losing against Greg Hardy won’t help Lane’s cause, and his lack of time in the octagon against the experienced Tafa. While Lane looked to have the edge early on in their first fight, it may not have lasted that long. In this case, Tafa should be the sharper man here.
Sporting News prediction: Tafa via KO (round one)
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Tyson Pedro vs. Anton Turkalj; light heavyweights
Per Sports Interaction, Anton Turkalj is the -130 favorite, while Tyson Pedro is the +100 underdog.
Pedro is 2-2 in his last four fights and lands 2.96 significant strikes per 15 minutes. Turkalj is 1-2 in his previous three, and the Dana White’s Contender Series veteran lands 1.60 significant strikes per minute. He does have an edge on the ground, averaging 6.97 takedowns landed per 15 minutes and landing 16 in three bouts.
If Turkalj can tire out Pedro, “The Pleasure Man’ should walk away with the win. It may not be easy, but not impossible to think after Pedro’s recent struggles against some top talent.
Sporting News prediction: Turkalj via submission (round two)
Carlos Ulberg vs. Jung Da-un; light heavyweights
Per Sports Interaction, Carlos Ulberg is the -315 favorite, while Jung Da-un is the +225 underdog.
Ulberg is on a four-fight win streak, beating Ihor Potieria in his last bout in May via TKO. “Black Jag” lands 8.13 significant strikes per minute and has a 62% strike accuracy mark. With three wins in a row via knockout, none of those fights for the Dana White’s Contender Series alum have gone past the first round.
Jung is 4-2-1 in the octagon but is on a two-fight losing streak. He lands 3.39 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 42%.
Jung has a small reach advantage and has an edge on the floor, but Ulberg’s strikes will be the deciding factor. Ulberg may punish Jung with volume shots through all three rounds if the fight makes it that far.
Sporting News prediction: Ulberg via KO (round one)
MORE: What Saudi Arabia $100 million PFL investment means for future of MMA
Jack Jenkins vs. Chepe Mariscal; featherweights
Per Sports Interaction, Jack Jenkins is the -225 favorite, while Jose Mariscal is the +165 underdog.
A former Eternal MMA champion, Jenkins is on a nine-fight win streak and is 3-0 inside the octagon. The former Dana White Contender Series standout lands 4.34 significant strikes per minute and has a 61% strike accuracy mark.
Mariscal is on a four-fight win streak and is 1-0 inside the octagon, landing 71 strikes and four takedowns against Trevor Peek.
Jenkins is a superior boxer, and his wrestling could be an issue for “Machine Gun,” who has three wins via submission but hasn’t done so since 2018. If he can use his skills to work around Mariscal, Jenkins could get the win. Look for this to be an entertaining affair.
Sporting News prediction: Jenkins via TKO (round three)
Jamie Mullarkey vs. John Makdessi; lightweights
Per Sports Interaction, Jamie Mullarkey is the -300 favorite, while John Makdessi is the +215 underdog.
Mullarkey is 2-2 in his last four fights, landing seven takedowns. He lands 4.20 significant strikes per minute and has ten wins via knockout. Makdessi is also 2-2 in his last four fights and lands 5.52 significant strikes per minute, landing 124 against Ignacio Bahamondes.
Mullarkey is the more active fighter, competing twice in 2023, while Makdessi has fought twice between 2021 and 2022. The fresher fighter, Mullarkey, even in defeat in his last fight, has dramatically stepped up his game.
Makdessi is a striking machine, but time may not be kind to him. Mullarkey will look to wear him out early while landing strikes to back Makdessi up.
Sporting News prediction: Mullarkey via unanimous decision
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Landon Quinones; lightweights
Per Sports Interaction, Nasrat Haqparast is the -460 favorite, while Landon Quinones is the +315 underdog.
Quinones has primarily competed for Titan FC and is on a five-fight win streak. Four wins have come via knockout for the Titan FC lightweight champion. Joining the UFC in 2017, Haqparast is 6-4 in the octagon and ended a two-fight losing skid in his last bout in September.
He lands an average of 5.06 significant strikes per minute and has a strike accuracy mark of 44%. Quinones can change it up, landing takedowns and submitting his opponents, but how likely is that against Haqparast?
Haqparast has struggled against the division’s best, including Drew Dober, Dan Hooker, and Bobby Green. He may be the favourite, but Quinones’ skills, even at the last minute, should prevail for the first big upset of the night.
Sporting News prediction: Quinones via TKO (round two)
Mike Mathetha vs. Charlie Radtke; welterweights
Per Sports Interaction, Charlie Radtke is the -315 favorite, while Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha is the +215 underdog.
Radtke makes his octagon debut as “Blood Diamond” looks for his first UFC win in his third attempt. The latter has been taken down four times in the octagon, as the former kickboxing star hasn’t found a groove yet.
Radtke is more of a striker than the ground-based fighters Methetha has faced, but is on a four-fight win streak. A man with knockout power, Radtke has submitted two opponents.
“Blood Diamond” will have a one-inch height advantage, but “Chuck Buffalo” has the skills to outclass the former.
Sporting News prediction: Radtke via unanimous decision
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Shane Young vs. Gabriel Miranda; featherweights
Per Sports Interaction, Shane Young is the -165 favorite, while Gabriel Miranda is the +130 underdog.
A foreman before turning pro in 2012, Young joined the UFC in 2017 and is 2-4 with the promotion. Miranda turned pro at the same time and joined the UFC in September, losing to Benoit Saint-Denis, a big wrestler. He has 15 wins via submission.
Miranda landed only 20 significant strikes against Saint-Denis, but that was more of a mismatch. The underdog, “Fly” has a better chance against Young, who has gotten outstruck in significant strikes during his losing streak (189 compared to 130).
It is a must-win fight for Young, who is in danger of being cut by the UFC. Unfortunately, against someone with the submission and ground skills of Miranda, Young may falter.
Sporting News prediction: Miranda via submission (round one)
Kevin Jousset vs. Kiefer Crosbie; welterweights
Per Sports Interaction, Kevin Jousset is the -145 favorite, while Kiefer Crosbie is the +115 underdog.
Both fighters are making their UFC debut. Jousset is on a three-fight win streak and has four wins via knockout. Crosbie has fought for Bellator and Bamma and is on a two-fight win streak. “Big Daddy” has five wins via knockout and two via submission.
“Air” Jousset has managed to tire his opponents out by bringing them to the floor. That will help against Crosbie, who can be tactical but has failed to beat the likes of Charlie Leary and Georgi Karakhanyan. The younger fighter by three years, New Zealand’s Jousset should walk out with the win to start the night.
Sporting News prediction: Jousset via TKO (round two)
WATCH: UFC 293 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+