Sean Strickland produced one of the biggest championship upsets in UFC history by defeating Israel Adesanya to capture the middleweight title at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia.
All week in Sydney, Strickland had received the lion’s share of the crowd support as the Australian fans took to the American’s no-frills personality and sense of humor during a lively build-up to fight night.
And on the night itself, a packed Qudos Bank Arena crowd threw their support behind Strickland, who produced an inspired performance to capture the undisputed 185-pound title in his 20th UFC bout.
In the bout itself, Strickland struck early as he dropped Adesanya in the opening round, then unloaded a barrage of strikes as the champion attempted to work his way back to his feet. It was a huge moment early in the fight that only served to boost Strickland’s confidence, and fire up the crowd even more.
Buoyed by his early breakthrough, Strickland, who admitted after the fight that he had intended to wrestle, stuck to his striking roots as he kickboxed the former kickboxing ace through the remainder of the fight and had the better of the exchanges for the majority of the bout. After the matchup went all the way to the scorecards, all three judges saw it the same as they each returned scores of 49-46 for Strickland, who claimed the biggest win of his career.
Volkov taps Tuivasa
In the co-main event, former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov extended his win streak to three in a row with s second-round submission of Australia’s Tai Tuivasa.
Tuivasa entered the arena to a huge ovation from the Sydney crowd, but the Western Sydney native was unable to give the fans the win they craved as he boxed smartly through the opening round and came close to finishing his man with a flurry of strikes as he trapped the Australian against the cage in the closing moments of the round.
However, the finish eventually came in the second round ia an unexpected technique, as Volkov caught a Tuivasa kick, took him to the mat and mounted him. Once there, he tried to lock up an arm-triangle choke, but then transitioned to an Ezekiel choke to force the tap at the 4:37 mark.
The main card also saw first-round knockout victories for Justin Tafa and Tyson Pedro, while flyweight Manel Kape and debutant Felipe dos Santos produced a thrilling matchup that went the distance to earn “Fight of the Night” honors. Kape took the win, but dos Santos, who took the fight on short notice after initially being set to fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, acquitted himself superbly to prove that he belongs on the UFC stage.
UFC 293: Official results
- Sean Strickland def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) – for middleweight title
- Alexander Volkov def. Tai Tuivasa via submission (Ezekiel choke) – Round 2, 4:37
- Manel Kape def. Felipe dos Santos via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Justin Tafa def. Austen Lane via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:22
- Tyson Pedro def. Anton Turkalj via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 2:12
- Carlos Ulberg def. Jung Da-un via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:49
- Chepe Mariscal def. Jack Jenkins via TKO (arm injury) – Round 2, 3:19
- Jamie Mullarkey def. John Makdessi via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Nasrat Haqparast def. Landon Quinones via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Charlie Radtke def. Mike Mathetha via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Gabriel Miranda def. Shane Young via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 0:59
- Kevin Jousset def. Kiefer Crosbie via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:49